I Was Trained for the Culture Wars in Home School, Awaiting Someone Like Mike Pence as a Messiah

I was working the polls on election day, handing people ballots and explaining how to fill them out properly. I made it my mission to come up with interesting uses for the removable tabs and entertain people for the 30 seconds that I had their captive attention. When 7 pm hit, people came in looking grim. “Did you hear about the polls?” they’d ask. “No,” I said, “but don’t tell me, I need to get through the next hour.” I guarded my polling location from news of what was happening because we still had to close – I still had to close – and needed to be able to focus without dealing with the sheer terror of reality.

I checked Twitter as I got in my Lyft back home. Shock bombarded and horror filled me as I scrolled through my timeline. I hoped the panic would vanish once the CA votes were counted. It didn’t. Slowly the new reality set in – the one where I wake up horrified and lose more of my basic human rights every day. The one where I wake up and am reminded that I was prepared for this, I saw this coming, I know what’s happening.

I grew up in the far-right evangelical conservative (Christofascist) movement; specifically, I was homeschooled and my parents were part of a subculture called Quiverfull, whose aim is to outbreed everyone for Jesus. I spent my teen years being a political activist. I was taught by every pastor I encountered that it was our job as Christians to outbreed the secularists (anyone not a far-right evangelical Protestant) and take over the government through sheer numbers. I was part of TeenPact, Generation Joshua and my local Teenage Republicans (TARS).

When the Tea Party rose in 2009, that was my culture. The Tea Party was step one. I was laying the groundwork for those elections in 2006. These people didn’t come out of the blue like it seemed. This plan, this Christofascist takeover of the US government, has been in the works for decades. When evangelical conservatism started becoming popular and more mainstream around the 1970s, the foundation was being laid for the tragedy playing out right now.

Evangelical conservatives started taking over their local republican parties and founding organizations like Operation Rescue, Homeschool Legal Defense Association, Family Research Council and Focus on the Family, just to name a few.

Via hslda.org

Michael Farris founded HSLDA in 1983 as a way to ensure that homeschooling was legal, but what he’s been striving for is the wild west. His organization is trying to keep homeschooling away from any interference so the children he trains through his sister organization, Generation Joshua, would be able to fly under the radar. Generation Joshua started in 2003, primarily catering to children homeschooled by extremely religious rightwing adults. Its purpose was to train us to fight in what the Christofascists have been calling the “Culture Wars.” It’s a loose and ambiguous term that basically means anything or anyone that doesn’t align with this very specific view of Christianity must not be allowed to continue.

Mission statements of GenJ, TeenPact, NCFCA, CFC

How do you do that? Well, you overturn Roe v. Wade, Griswold v. Connecticut, Brown v. Board of Education and Bob Jones v. The United States. Each of these decisions currently protects reproductive rights or non-discrimination based on race. As retribution, you amend the Constitution to discriminate against queers, trans people, women and people of color. Then, you make laws legislating morality. The only way to do this is to infiltrate the government; so Generation Joshua, TeenPact and other organizations exist to indoctrinate and recruit homeschooled youth who have ample free time to participate in politics. The biggest resources for teaching civil discourse are the National Christian Forensics and Communications Association and Communicators for Christ (since renamed Institute for Cultural Communicators). Through these programs we learned how to argue effectively. As students, we were taught critical thinking skills but given only a narrow view of what was acceptable to argue for. We were, after all, being trained to take over the country for Christ, literally. We knew how to perform logical gymnastics about abortion, Christianity and any evangelical talking point you could throw at us.

When we showed up to city council, local political party meetings and tours of the Capitol we asked intelligent questions, were respectful and had a vested interest in how our local political machine ran. We impressed every government official and staff member with our questions, earnesty and demeanor. In short, we were sneaky and polite Trojan horses; we had an agenda. Yes, even as 15-year-olds. It was forcefully handed to us by the adults in our lives who had been preparing for this since before we were born.

I watched the Tea Party takeover and was surprised no one saw it coming. After all, this was part of the plan. Trump being elected is also part of the plan, although not Trump specifically; the true goal is Pence.

Christofascists have been wanting someone like Pence in the White House and, until now, didn’t have a way to get one in. They know Trump is easily manipulated and will change his mind with the wind if it makes him feel more powerful and famous. Trump couldn’t care less about policy, a fact he’s made quite obvious. The Right has given a tyrant power and fame; he will do whatever they want him to do in order to keep it. This way they can sneak Pence in on a piggyback while filling Congress with even more evangelical conservative Republicans. Compared to Trump’s abrasive and terrifying behavior, Pence seems much less threatening. This is not the case. Pence has a proven track record of legalizing discrimination and acting against women and marginalized people. Those of us who didn’t leave the far Right are being elected to federal positions or are taking over states and cities. With Pence in office, even the reasonable-seeming incumbents – who have been and are still at the mercy of the Tea Party – are growing more bold in their attempts to further the Christofascist agenda: To Take Back The Country For Christ.

This was the mantra we heard. This was our mission. This is how we were to win: Outbreed, Outvote, Outactivate. Every class, every event, every pastor or guest speaker reiterated this, choosing to risk the 501c3 status of their church to push their agenda. To take back the country for Christ, we needed to outbreed, outvote and outactivate the other side, thus saith The Lord.

Meanwhile, mainstream Democrats shake their heads in confusion and fundamentally misunderstand the meaning of grassroots organizing, which is where all of this happens. Republicans have a vast network of homeschoolers that HSLDA and others have given them to tap into as a source of free labor. Republicans in state governments are lax on homeschooling oversight because their Get Out The Vote base is made of homeschoolers thanks to Generation Joshua and Teenpact.

Via Generation Joshua

Homeschoolers may make up a small portion of students as a whole, but they are loud, have time and can be activated with one email blast. When HR6 was brought to Congress in 1994, homeschool families realized their power. With an alert from HSLDA, homeschool families flooded the lines of Congress demanding that they exclude private, home and religious schools from the bill. They succeeded. The reach of HSLDA to activate the homeschool community has only grown since then. We are the secret no one knew about and it’s time to come to light. Homeschoolers are a huge reason for the evangelical conservative takeover we’ve seen over the last decade or so; it would be a mistake to write them off.

Self-proclaimed constitutional lawyer Michael Farris, the founder of HSLDA, and revisionist historian David Barton have spent years twisting their interpretation of the U.S. Constitution as some kind of God-breathed document into the minds of parents and their families who will just believe what they say because they’re “Good Christians.” They don’t necessarily practice critical thought, are dissuaded from looking at the Constitution themselves without a law degree and don’t bother to read history from all angles, relying only on the whitewashed Christian versions of the Constitution and our founding.

If you’re thinking that declaring the nation a Christian one and turning into a theocracy is a ludicrous idea that has no basis in our constitution, you’d be correct. However, Christofascists have imbibed this theory and now believe it is their Christian duty to save the country from its secular ways in the name of religious freedom. In this worldview, any non-Christian (including Catholics and Jews) is doomed to eternal torture if they don’t convert. Thus, we are all going to hell in a handbasket if “good Christians” don’t save the country from the liberals who think people should just “do what they want regardless of what God says.” Their religious extremism is worse than any group they fearmonger over, but the irony is lost on them.

Evangelical conservatives are convinced that their agenda will save the country from God-ordained death. Pat Robertson and many others believe that natural disasters are sent from God specifically to punish America for letting marginalized people have rights and be alive. This motivates them to do everything in their power to “save” the country from the ungodly – even, maybe especially – if it involves stripping others of the freedoms they deem to be against God’s wishes. They don’t care if their war for Christ hurts humans they see as living wrongfully, because they are capital “R” Right and that’s what matters. Their Rightness, they believe, comes from God Himself. Their beliefs are callous and without empathy, prioritizing dogma over people. These beliefs are dangerous. Many of us who have come out as queer, trans, or even merely gone to college, have lost family because of this worldview. A single powerful person who is convinced of their own Rightness with no thought of introspection is dangerous. We now have a government full of them.

It is important to understand that they are coming at this from a place of passion and dedication. They have a fire in their bellies. While it looks like a bunch of backwoods hillbillies playing with guns to anyone outside, they are resilient and in it for the long haul. They want America to succeed, but in their America there isn’t room for anyone unlike them. There’s a reason Trump’s mantra stuck despite his deplorable behaviour. They think America was founded on conservative Protestant ideals because that’s what they’ve been fed, because that’s what aligns with their interpretation of the Bible and they will not go down without a fight.

They are scared of anything newer than the 18th century; you can’t logic the fear of change away from people. If you do no research and are instead predisposed to the belief that older is better, it’s easy to think the Puritans were good and wholesome. People wore funny hats, were conservative and hated science. Church was basically mandatory and women weren’t allowed to speak or be autonomous people. These are all comforting things for people who feel as though the world is against them because of their religion, rather than the fact that their views and actions are bigoted, racist and actively harmful to millions of other humans. You cannot be this version of evangelical and not force your beliefs on others. Failing to convert is a failure on you and your dedication to your faith. This religion is based entirely on fear; you can’t argue away a fear so intense that it hardens you to anyone unlike you or your tribe.

They will not be won over with sit-downs and respectability politics. This kind of dogma cannot be reasoned with; it must be fought against. Trying to convince them to come to the other side is a waste of time unless they’ve already started on that journey themselves. The ones in power, actively harming our lives, are past this point. We can only fight back.

The revolution has come and we are the resistance.


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Profile gravatar of Kieryn Darkwater

Kieryn Darkwater is a blue haired fairy boi you can find making art and being an activist. They spend their time advocating for housing with East Bay Forward and protecting homeschool students as the Tech Director of the Coalition for Responsible Home Education. When they’re not writing, organizing, or otherwise doing activisms, you can find them drawing comics, talking about what HRT is like, learning any new art skill, or playing video games.

Kieryn has written 3 articles for us.

624 Comments

    • 0

      Wow!! I think this is a little extreme, biased and a huge stereotype.. 1 st… not all homeschoolers are Christian… in fact, many are liberal, many fight to protect these very rights you are claiming “homeschoolers” are trying to take away.. I am Christian and a member of hslda and have had none of the experiences you speak of in church or with hslda. This is really your personal opionion and not factual. We have enough stereotypes to overcome, we dint need a political one too

      • 1

        I’m glad you’re having a positive experience, but some of the stuff HSLDA’s lobbied for hurt a lot of people. HSLDA argued against the ratification of the UN Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women, and Farris was instrumental in rejecting the ERA because he said it would lead to gay marriage

      • 1

        HSLDA and Michael Farris are among the most significant reasons why we’ve never ratified the UN’s Rights of the Child, too.

        They’ve defended homeschoolers who locked their children up in cages and called them “heroes.” The sent out fear-mongering materials about CPS that were outright falsehoods that kept most of the kids I knew who were being abused afraid of ever reporting. These kids who were being beaten with actual cricket bats saw the HSLDA warnings about CPS on their fridge and thought the CPS would be worse than being violently beaten multiple times a day.

        Glad you’re not experiencing the HSLDA negatively, but they’ve been the direct cause behind a lot of suffering and your positive experience doesn’t negate that at all.

      • 1

        Just because you haven’t seen it doesn’t mean it’s not true. Have you read all the Court Reports? Have you heard Michael Farris or any of the pther HSLDA leaders speak? Because I have.

        I’ve been in audience as Farris talked about Christian homeschoolers needing to outbreed the rest of the population so homeschooled kids could take over government. I spent years reading my parent’s copy of the Court Report, as HSLDA charted out their plans and as they spelled out the discriminatory intent behind the Religious Freedom Restoration Act, which Farris wrote. I’ve linked to documentation below.

        I’ve also been in the audience where Farris wrote off his homeschool alumni critics as atheists and open homosexuals, which was supposed to be enough proof to the audience of conservative Christian homeschool moms that we were not to be listened to.

        That’s what HSLDA is, that’s who Michael Farris is, and they’re using homeschool parents and children to achieve a political goal of theocratic domination of American politics.

        http://kathrynbrightbill.com/2015/03/31/original-rfra-drafter-admits-discriminatory-intent/

    • 1

      I grew up very similarly in homeschooled fundamentalism and HSLDA and Michael Ferriss were daily parts of my environment. Very similarly to you I escaped into rationality and a lifestyle of kindness. Kudos to you for standing up to these forces. Sadly redolent of Maajid Nawaz’s memoirs. How hypocritical of the conservatives to create fear about Muslims infiltrating government when it is they who are doing so. I hope reason, truth, and kindness win in this great struggle at the turn of the century. Perhaps Yeats was onto something, and fascism is that strange new beast that slouches round every century. Solidarity!

      • 0

        Good for you for seeing this from a different point of view. Wow. Even my father asked me why I changed at the age of 19 so long ago My answer was, ” Because it didn’t make sense.” Good people are everywhere. I found them outside of the Christian belief system. And on that note, I refuse to join a church because I have LGBT in my extended family. I tell them exactly that and they leave me without discussion. Time for us to be the resistance. I’ll be there in a blink of an eye.

    • 0

      Damn- well said! I’m a 34 year old woman who “left the church” 17ish years ago. I can attest to this young lady’s experience. While not homeschooled, many kids in our church were. I have family that believe this almost to a T. There is no reasoning with someone who owns the Truth. For reals. This shit is as real as it is scary because now they own almost every aspect of our federal government and many of our local governments. But yet….I’m going to fuck’n March and call and write and speak openly about how this isn’t Gids love- this is their Bigotry.

    • 0

      Apparently she had a miserable time in that home. So sorry to hear it! Just want to say that I am one of those home-school parents, and belong to some of those organizations, and she paints an extreme and in many ways false and destructive portrait. Though I certainly grant her her viewpoint. Somehow amid all this fascist foment we manage to visit the old folks home, build houses for ourselves, our children, and others of our faith and not of our faith, read books and magazines and the Bible and other “bibles” usually to critique them (but hey, If they have truth, let them speak…) grow our own food, and other people’s, raise multiple usually happy (sorry Kieryn) children to be kind and hardworking children of God. We have a vision, we act on it, we train our children, and we generally don’t try to interfere with other people except in our God-given role as citizens. No we don’t want laws that allow or worse yet make us fund abortion. Sorry it’s abhorrent. Yes we want laws that promote order and decency and frankly you dont want to live in the dystopia that video games make seem so wild and fun. Believe me, please. HSLDA while very activist and driven, is not some racist engine that you try to spin it into. It is anti-homosexual lifestyle, and that’s just what you get with a literal reading of the Bible. Sorry. No one there, least of all Michael Farris, nor Mike Pence, wants to hurt, imprison or even really discriminate against self-proclaimed homosexuals. They just push against the homosexual lifestyle being flaunted, promoted, and or forced on their community. It’s a painful tension in America right now. No doubt. But as for me and my church, we like love and kindness too, and will cleave to those when and if times get tough, and will reject and fight violent fascism right along with you Kieryn if it comes to that– which I do not believe it will. Let’s do our best to get along. Forgive your parents and treat them with as much kindness as you can muster. God is at your side!

      • 1

        Okay – a lot to unpack there in AJ’s ‘comment’

        First – The author (Keiryn) isn’t a woman, everyone here needs to understand and respect this. Stop using ‘she/her’

        Second: I’m just going to break this transparent act of manipulation and abuse down for you all

        First point – throughout we have a bunch of false and entirely disingenuous nods to ‘respectability’ and ‘politeness’ that are supposed to influence readers to believe ‘AJ’ is a reasonable and respectable person and not *at all* attacking the author

        These respectability dogwhistles are deployed solely to provide a negative comparison to the author ‘look how reasonable and nice I am, and after the author was SO MEAN AND UNREASONABLE’
        You can tell this from how almost every respectability phrase is coupled with either derision or an accusation of misbehavior or misrepresentation on the authors behalf

        eg. “Apparently she had a miserable time in that home. So sorry to hear it!” (n’aww, look how nice I am, how much compassion!)
        “Just want to say that I am one of those home-school parents, and belong to some of those organizations, and she paints an extreme and in many ways false and destructive portrait” (Now that I’ve shown you all how compassionate I am, I want to emphasize the author is LYING in order to DESTROY me)

        The next paragraph pretty much follows the same pattern – ‘grants’ others a veiwpoint, then deploys sarcasm to again emphasize the author LIES.

        Then, and this is fun, the sheer arrogance and overweening pride here means AJ starts breaking cover and being more revealing. The ‘apologies’ become openly snide and the rhetoric of Christofascism starts to bleed through:

        eg. “grow our own food, and other people’s, raise multiple usually happy (sorry Kieryn) children to be kind and hardworking children of God”

        Hardworking Children of God – hmm, what does that remind us of?

        The wonderful moment of mishandling this attempt to gaslight, shame, and derail Keiryns testimony comes next in this paragraph. Particularly note words like ‘vision’ ‘train’ ‘God given role as citizens’ ‘promote order and decency’

        “We have a vision, we act on it, we train our children, and we generally don’t try to interfere with other people except in our God-given role as citizens… Yes we want laws that promote order and decency”

        Considering the article this is in response to, this confirms and serves to solidify Kieryn’s testimony and experience, and that of the many respondents to this piece. This parent is outright stating that thier children are being TRAINED in their GOD GIVEN ROLE AS CITIZENS in order to promote what they believe is ORDER AND DECENCY’ and we all know what that means for anyone not them.

        This kindof deteriorates after this into the general confused rhetoric we’d expect and is mostly abuser phrases meant to further undermine Keiryn and people who agree with the article:

        “you dont want to live in the dystopia that video games make seem so wild and fun. Believe me, please.” (look how these young people who are younger did I mention YOUNG they just think the world should be like video games they don’t know what they are saying because YOUNG)

        followed by pretty much ‘we can’t help discriminating against homosexuals the Bible says so’ which I don’t even need to address because thousands of theologians and others have already done so

        The ‘homosexual agenda’ (we’re bored of this one)

        as for “no one wants to hurt [you]” that’s pure abuser gaslighting and pretty much expected from a member of the organization that’s invested in children not being able to recognize or flee their abuse

        This is extremely revealing though:”But as for me and my church, we like love and kindness too, and will cleave to those when and if times get tough”

        Because it outright slips and admits love and kindness are NOT what they’re cleaving to now.

        “Let’s do our best to get along” is another respectability dog whistle meant to conclude with another attempt to show you how nice and reasonable this person is, compared to Keiryn, who is being DIVISIVE!!

        And rather ruined by the end bit, which AJ doesn’t seem to realize is going to look like a plain attempt to injure by any abuse survivor forever ever: “Forgive your parents and treat them with as much kindness as you can muster. God is at your side!”

        This person, knowing Keiryn’s history, is deploying a number of Christofascist morals to (silently, they think) accuse them of sinning against God and a nasty ominous little reminder that God is always there and ready to judge them.

        This person just proved everything Keiryn is saying and writing about this movement with one disgusting lot of transparent, abusive, awful rhetoric

        Congratz.

        We have a vision, we act on it, we train our children, and we generally don’t try to interfere with other people except in our God-given role as citizens. No we don’t want laws that allow or worse yet make us fund abortion. Sorry it’s abhorrent. Yes we want laws that promote order and decency and frankly you dont want to live in the dystopia that video games make seem so wild and fun

        • 1

          Wyrd_dragon,

          You expressed my thoughts about AJ’S comment perfectly! If you grew up up around “fundamentalists” who abuse children “in the name of God”, you can see right through the manipulation. It’s people like that who make me utterly I’ll.

          Kieryn, I hate that you endured years of abuse and brain washing, but i am extremely happy that you managed to get out. As a queen who experienced similar circumstances, I feel for you. You are not alone. ❤

      • 1

        Ok, I didn’t grow up with the authors life, but I DID grow up in a fundamental Baptist church and school. They aren’t wrong. Fundamentalists DO advocate “taking back the country for God”. And they don’t really care who gets kicked in the teeth while they are doing it.
        Pence, btw, is pro-conversion-therapy. It’s been outlawed by nearly every modern country and is widely considered to be little more than torture, and yet you say he doesn’t want them hurt. He just wants them tortured, told they have no righrs, can’t marry, adopt, or show affection to their partner. Getting married isn’t “flaunting a lifestyle”. My neighbor getting married to her female partner forces absolutely nothing on me.
        You want laws based on YOUR religion and wonder why everyone else isn’t good with that.
        Oh, and you don’t get to decide where your taxes go. I hate war, and yet my taxes go to fund a plethora of them.

    • 0

      I live in Georgia, as a bleeding heart liberal. I have been watching this, knowing on some level what was happening, and still somehow underestimated the sheer tenacity of christo fascists.

      This election at least has energized many of us who believe in equality for all with a strong protection of secular government.

      I’m all in now. Thank you for sharing this excellent personal account.

    • 0

      Very religious groups are nothing to fart around with. The very orthodox Jews do the same thing — they separate their kids from the non-Orthodox Jews, they isolate their kids and they do not send them to public schools.

      Everything is done in a neighborhood yeshiva or one that is larger and in some other town.

      I have heard that the girls and boys get only the basic ABCs and the rest is rigid faith immersement.

      I have heard also that corporal punishment is off the charts in those schools and at home. I would not doubt that spousal abuse is an everyday thing and most nearly the norm.

      • 0

        I wish you’d limit yourself to what you know first-hand, and not slander entire groups based on what you’ve “heard” and “would not doubt.” There’s plenty of misogyny in ultra-Orthodox Judaism. But, for one thing — ironically enough — girls actually get a much better secular education than boys in the kind of schools you’re talking about, because they’re not expected to spend all their time studying Torah and Talmud. Second, of course spousal abuse occurs. But, unlike with Christianity, spousal abuse and marital rape have been strictly prohibited in Judaism for the last thousand years. I’m not saying the prohibitions are always honored, but at least those who do it can’t justify it by pointing to their religion. Finally, there’s no agenda to take over the country. Obviously!

    • 0

      Best comment: “I don’t mean to insult, but this essay is so exaggerated and over the top, a diatribe that promotes a Machiavellian plot onto a group that is little different than any group trying to live their beliefs and promote what they believe to be the best world view for how to live as human in a temporal world. How is what they are doing different from everyone else? LGBT groups promote their worldview and are activists in politics. Climate change acolytes have their priests and are activists in politics. There are mermaids and pirates who want to be taken seriously. Every group wants a piece of the identity-rights pie. It amazes me that anyone can get paranoid and upset at Christians who at their most extreme lament sex outside marriage or what they consider deviant sex or taking a life in the womb, which they consider wrong (it kinda is), or having bathrooms just for boys and girls. Horrors! That’s about as bad as it gets, folks. Some may wag their figurative fingers and want you to feel guilty, but you can say no thanks and go about your business. They are not sending sinners to the gulag, no beheadings here, no gays tossed off buildings, no burning folks alive for blasphemy.

      • 1

        Jeffrey Zekas… if Fundamentalist Christian’s just wanted to live their lives and not be persecuted for their beliefs, just like the other groups you referenced, they’d have no issues. the problem is they try to force them onto people who don’t believe what they believe. If gay people were fighting that EVERYONE NEEDS TO BE GAY, that would be an issue. But they’re not. You’re missing a very important piece to this puzzle here.

    • 0

      Been there (and out). Sounds completely familiar. Let’s not forget that there is also an unscrupulous group of secular power seekers who are willing to use evangelicals for their own agenda. Blind devotion also makes you easily manipulated with the right vocabulary.

  1. 0

    Can I premise this by saying that I am FOR a majority of what you are saying here. There is a type of simplification that comes with a certain subset of religious ideology, but the last paragraph alarmed me a bit.

    “They will not be won over with sit-downs and respectability politics. This kind of dogma cannot be reasoned with; it must be fought against. Trying to convince them to come to the other side is a waste of time unless they’ve already started on that journey themselves. The ones in power, actively harming our lives, are past this point. We can only fight back.”

    If I were reading this out of context, it seems a lot like the mantra that some of those same people use to discriminate against people who come from a non-Christian background. I’m speaking specifically about Islam, but I don’t think the language is exclusive to Islam.

    This is a question I raise out of a strong desire for discussion and clarity. What is the difference between painting with this broad brush and the painting that the far right has done of other religious view points with their broad brush?

    • 0

      Also, I can not stress enough the amount of grief that I’ve felt daily since Donald Trump was elected as the next president in November.

      This is something I struggle with because I am also someone who comes from a family that has very right leaning view points, though not quite with the mantra that you’re speaking of here, Kieryn. I know what it feels like to try to reason with some people that hold these beliefs.

      I just question what this fight looks like, you know?

      • 0

        I’ll be going into more detail about that in a follow up, but largely it looks like getting involved at the grassroots level, in your community, fighting for housing, healthcare, transit, education, etc. Directly changing the things we can control and not spending time trying to convince the unconvincible.

        It might feel like a large brush but it’s not, nor is it inaccurate. Alot of religions have similar dogma, you’re right. Any religion that attempts to oppress people through government needs to be fought against. The religious right have been planning this decades before I was born, they’re sold on it… They’re succeeding even. The only way to stop it is to get involved ourselves.

        • 0

          Thank you for writing this, it’s terrifying and enlightening at the same time. Had I not read the comments I would almost have though this to be perhaps.. inauthentic.. I have inlaws/family like this and I feel this level of intense Rightness is just under the surface of their very polite and friendly manner. I agree that the fight is a loud and point for point counter, a challenge at every assertion..

        • 0

          I call what you’re describing a cult. I’ve never trusted them. I totally get what you’re saying and thank you for saying it. I have found them suspecious for a long time. In fact there are books on this subject that any library will be happy to provide.

        • 0

          Kieryn, This article has been posted twice in my Facebook feed today, so congrats. I homeschooled two of my kids during middle and high school years (mostly un-schooling with a lot of travel for historical and cultural reasons). We did “hang” on occasion with the Quiverfull Christians for socializing, but that was all. What I’m most curious about is how you got out and got some perspective. This broad brush talk would have included you, and I’m wondering about your journey out of this kind of life. I was a homeschool Mama on the other side, and I sometimes worried about these kids ever finding their own way in the world. Seems you did, and I’m so happy. For context, I’m a mom of a Trans son who would consider himself a Christian, a Christian daughter and a Jewish daughter. My husband (Jewish culture) and I are both Agnostic. Great, super informative essay. I look forward to reading more from you!

        • 0

          I’m glad to see this comment, and find another person that was slightly afraid of the rhetoric in the last paragraph. While I do believe that our level of activism should match that of the alt right that brought the currency presidency to fruition, I am afraid that the rhetoric of the last paragraph evokes a culture-war feel, albeit from the other side.

          All I can speak from is my experience, so I wouldn’t presume to have the right answer to any of this, but there is a chance inducing fear through an article and villianizing a people group won’t effectively equip the left the engage the right with the demeanor necessary to be persuasive. If we can’t out logic the alt right because they are brainwashed to be closed to reason, then we have to out *love* the right. The only change I have seen from my extremely conservative family and relatively conservative family is through extended periods of close proximity. Loving them well despite our (extreme) differences is what l brought about my change in my circles. I wouldn’t presume that to be the answer for everybody, but I am afraid of creating fear and an us vs them fighting feel.

          • 0

            In my experience also, vilifying them has never changed their minds. Extending love and kindness across tremendous differences is so hard sometimes but has been more effective at getting people to reevaluate their ingrained prejudices than anything else I’ve found. Thanks for the insight.

      • 0

        Totally valid.

        I was hesitant to even ask this question, because I know it is a complicated one with a lot of nuance.

        I have found refuge in the AS community and I come here to learn and grow. What I’m seeking is a sincere discussion about the language we use. Religious ideology is so sticky and it has been vastly oversimplified and abused by people in power.

        How does one truly change that though?

          • 1

            That’s fair, it goes against everything we know about civil discourse.

            Our fight doesn’t look like punching them (tho I won’t stop anyone from it) it’s more activating against everything they are activating for. So protecting planned Parenthood when they dismantle it. We’re not going to win them over, so we shouldn’t be focused on dialoguing with them; rather, being more engaged in our communities and replicating as many social services on a local level as we can

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            “I’ve been taught to use reason and I don’t know how to be part of a conversation that eliminates it.”

            I feel like this is EXACTLY where our movement is stuck right now.

            Someone tweeted a few days ago something along the lines of, “it’s like the Democrats and Republicans sat down in a house to play Monopoly, and then the Republicans said “fuck it” and set fire to the house, but the Democrats are still sitting there, in the burning house, playing Monopoly.”

            We need a new mindset. We need to quell the fire, but we also need a strategy for future fires. This is not Friday game night, this is an emergency.

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            I agree with the sentiments in this piece. I was an evangelical Christian for 35 years- now an atheist. You can’t reason someone out of something that they didn’t come into through reason. They are intoxicated by their certainty- it’s the drug they sell. Reason and logic are not part of their lexicon.

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        Not just in America, it’s been happening over the last 30 or more years, to a lesser extent in Australia too (it’s just starting to “payoff” politically in our Parliament for a subgroup of the Liberal Party. This is probably happening in other Anglephone Protestant countries as well and non Protestant countries probably have their own versions, having seen how effective it’s been.

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      The Christians Kieryn is talking about are a tiny minority of Christians. Kieryn isn’t saying all Christians are like that. Kieryn is saying specific movements inside Christianity are doing this. Evangelical conservatives are a minority of Americans (though a large one) and the people Kieryn calls Christofascists are a smaller portion of conservative Evangelicals. At no point does the article claim all Christians or all conservatives or even all homeschoolers are part of this subculture.

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      this isn’t a broad brush. this is a fine brush with specific details about people who have infiltrated our government and are actively destroying everything we hold dear as we speak. big difference. RESIST!

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      What you are doing here with your seemingly respectable questions is a form of gaslighting. You are “nicely” attempting to equate this person’s legitimate fear and anger at these people whose _entire lives_ are aimed at creating injustice for others, with the bigotry of those same people.

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      The difference would be targeting extremists. She’s not saying ALL Christians. The Far Right does demonize ALL ‘muslims’ when meaning ISIS or extremists of Islam. No I do see that this is tricky territory. How do we tell the difference between what is ‘extreme’ and what is ‘normal level religious belief’. I’m not sure the answer to that, but I would think that on some level it would be to swear in on the understanding that the USA was founded on the FREEDOM of religion and not of any one faith. This is a fact and it needs to be ingrained into our society. Religion is not bad, but religion with a political agenda is. Always.

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      The logical flaw is that your assumption may be that fundamentalist Christianity is in any particular different from fundamentalist Islam. In order for a monotheism to be right, all others must be wrong. They are remarkably similar in that respect and “discrimination” is not a bad thing when it accurately describes a world view that will never stop until all other world views are subsumed under it.

      The difference is that as a largely rational, deity-free human, I am aware that I can’t make a robot for Christ/Allah/random Bronze Age figment into a rational person using rationality. So I don’t try. God-addled people will, by contrast, never cease to convert me. Or kill me should I prove “possessed by Satan” because I do not share their delusions.

      I’ve long believed that religion of this sort is like any other psychologically rooted addiction: you can’t talk people out of it. They have to want to leave it behind, and the nature of the God delusion is such that few will even have the idea of abandoning a faith-based world view occur to them. The presence of such people in a democracy is antithetical to the democracy: such people cannot bear that others think differently to them or live in a world without their flavour of deity, which is far more compelling a concept than this world, which is, in their conception, a vat of sin and corruption, could ever be. Whether these appraisals will ever occur to those of a humanistic, rational tendencies is unclear, because it leads to some uncomfortable conclusions.

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      I don’t know that I agree with everything in the piece, but to answer your concern that the piece sounds like what others say to oppress other religions, let me offer an alternative view. Perhaps the reason this sounds like other anti-religious positions is that it IS the only effective to response to fanatics of all religions, not any religion per se. Whether you’re talking about extreme Muslims or extreme Christians, they represent a fundamental threat to a diverse and harmonious society and cannot be reasoned with and must merely be prevented from gaining power. The difficult question is ‘what do you do with religious extremists (or any extremists) who are beyond reason and hell bent on imposing their life on society at large?’ They are an anathema to a happier world, but our own standards demand we tolerate them. I guess we are engaged in a long-term and perhaps endless war of ideas where we hope to eventually convert the dogmatic and unthinking into at least tolerant.

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        I agree. The problem right now, however, is they have been given the keys to the kingdom. We don’t have the liberty to be nice. As another poster says, this is an emergency.
        It’s the people who have gained the power and are now imposing their fundamentalist views on the rest of us that we must fight. The people who have voted them into power also have to be confronted, and the power of the vote taken back and exercised by all of us. No more sitting out elections and allowing gerrymandering and private-source voting machines.

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      The difference is that these people are a racial and religious majority actively trying to enact religious law and strip minorities of their civil rights right now, here. When they say that we have to fight back against Muslims, they are talking about “fighting back” against an already oppressed minority who are trying to mind their own business.

      It’s right to fight an aggressor actively threatening you and others. It’s wrong to pummel someone smaller than you to gain power.

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      I don’t read this as discrimination or painting with a broad brush. I think it’s a sad but informed statement of reality from someone who really knows. Kierstyn is describing the culture she grew up in, not stereotyping some “other”.

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      I see a clear distinction in that this is surfacing the actions of ‘Christian’ jihadists in this country (many of us thought this extent was an urban myth — especially that Pence is their holy Grail), whereas Muslims are being painted with the extreme brush of the handful of jihadists who are terrorists so that we will fear them irrationally. This is an alarm bell that needs ringing! Especially since we have become a country that allows anything underscored with the word “Christian” to go unquestioned/ unchallenged.

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      Consider what it means to “fight back,” can vary dramatically from one person or group to another.

      From my perspective, this means that we must also get out the vote, but rather than trying to change the minds of the far right Christof assists, we must reach out to our friends and neighbors who previously didn’t bother with voting or activism.

      The majority didn’t vote for either Trump or Clinton. Instead, the majority didn’t vote. We need to change apathy to activism.

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        Yes, the political aspects of this are at the root of both the cause and the potential cure, as far as I can see.

        Wheather the founders of movements like these in Christian or Islamic or Hindu or any other belief system actually firmly believe in the Tennents of their religions is I think, still debatable. Being the cynic that I am I’m just as ready to believe that they are political opportunists who are willing to wear the necessary mask to further their own ambitions.
        Their greater followers however, a frequently people who are believers who are often skilfully manipulated to take the next step down the path to fundamentalist belief and what is worse, action.

        By encouraging others who have previously been turned off by politicians or who think that they can’t make a difference many of us may gradually turn the tide. In some ways the draconian changes that are being enacted and promised by these governments may be their gift to those of us who are appalled by their actions.

        These changes are going to adversely effect us but many will also have an unwanted effect on their own supporters or affiliates. The lack of accessibility to health care, the well paying jobs that won’t materialise, the housing that isn’t going to happen etc. it may take time to build momentum and we will have to keep the pressure up by telling the stories and standing up but this is how some of the push back goes.

        Sorry all…. I’ve gone into overdrive again.

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      From my perspective, I would say the biggest difference is most times when people speak against Islam, they are not FROM Islam and therefore most of their info is propaganda.

      This person LIVED this and likely more qualified to inform that there are some past the point of being reasoned with. Therefore, we must fight for laws and policy just as hard as they do.

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      If you think people who have spent most of the last 30 years teaching their children that GOD is ordering them to turn this secular state into THEIR flavor of a Christian nation by asking them “Pretty Please!” then you are incredibly naive.
      Make no mistake, what Trump, Pence and the Christofascists are pushing for could only end in a Civil War. We CANNOT talk them out of that course of action. Things may look bleak and bad for Progressives now, but it is NOTHING compared to what is coming. And Progressives had better grab every scrap of courage and determination and self-preservation they have at their command and be prepared to do the worst that humanity has ever inflicted on itself. I don’t say this because it is what I want, or admire or what the hell ever, I say it because this is EXACTLY what I have spent the last 18 months trying to stop, by opposing the Alt-Right white supremacists represented by Trump and Pence. We didn’t stop them. Now we are on a fast slide downhill to disaster, and we DAMN WELL better get it through our heads that the other team is NOT playing by the same rules we are, and in fact are not playing by any form of CIVILIZED rules at all.

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      Lauren – you ask what the difference between this broad brush and the painting that the far right has done for other religious viewpoints?

      One difference is to realize that the aggressor isn’t a specific religion — but rather, is the spirit of radical, fundamentalist extremism — a spirit that can assume the guise of pretty much any religion. I think the author of the article realizes this very well — and they even hint to this implicitly, even if not explicitly.

      It’s as I’ve told people — the dangerous thing about Radical, Extremist Islam is not the Islam part – but the Radical, Extremist part. And the same goes for Radical Extremist Christianity, Radical Extremist Judaism, Radical Extremist Buddhism, Radical Extremist Hellenism, Radical Extremist Wicca — and Radical Extremist Insert-the-Name-of-Any-Religion-I-Left-Out.

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        “…the dangerous thing about Radical, Extremist Islam is not the Islam part – but the Radical, Extremist part. And the same goes for Radical Extremist Christianity, Radical Extremist Judaism, Radical Extremist Buddhism, Radical Extremist Hellenism, Radical Extremist Wicca — and Radical Extremist Insert-the-Name-of-Any-Religion-I-Left-Out.”

        Sophia, thank you, and YES! I say this over and over. Fundamentalism is fundamentalism, no matter the flavor. One of the foundations of all fundamentalist religious practices is the subjugation of women, a good marker to look for. Frankly, fundamentalists of different religions have more in common with each other than they do with non-extremist co-religionists as a rule.

        I am an atheist, as are my three (grown) children. We’re from a jewish family (and were more “jewish” in the past, though mostly secular, until we all finally shed those last vestiges of abrahamic tribalism). My kids were (mostly) homeschooled, in secular & unschooling style. One is now a public high school teacher, one a farmer, one an artist. I always cringe a little when I see homeschooling used the way these folks do; it perpetuates the idea that the only people who homeschool do so in order to limit free thought. We did it specifically to increase critical thinking skills and community involvement for our kids.

        We know people like those described here. (My youngest daughter’s paternal grandmother is a fundamentalist christian, who used to protest & get arrested with Operation Rescue; my middle sister, though not a fundamentalist jew, is a middle-american conservative bigot who voted for trump.) Experiencing this first hand is very different from judging entire groups (demarked by whatever boundaries constitute “other” in that case) remotely, in their entirety. While racism and bigotries of various forms can be localized or specific, most of the time it involves extremely broad categories, often quite vague or inconsistent in terms of who falls within them, and generally involving attributes that are not chosen, which is quite different from calling out hateful beliefs and behaviors of specific groups whose adherents choose their affiliation with.

        One of the things I see progressives struggling with especially now (understandably) is how to deal with the racist, hateful problem of islamophobia as a “broad brush” issue of discrimination, while still being able to denounce fundamentalist islam in the exact same way we should feel comfortable denouncing fundamentalist christianity/judaism/hinduism, etc. (misogynist, homophobic, clannish, hate/violence-prone, etc.) Hypersensitivity (again, appropriate in many cases, particularly now) to any appearance of broad bigotry that could be used to support immediate harm to innocents can hamper the ability to talk rationally about the real, disproportionate harm extremists of all religions pose to populations at large. I am, personally, far more afraid of the kind of folks spoken of here, but the fact is, I find all extremist/fundamentalist religious folk pretty scary in a big picture way. The far/alt-right’s horrifying success in redirecting and polarizing any dialog about this is truly stunning.

        Kieryn, thank you for writing this, for speaking and acting publicly. I just moved from the East Bay to Eugene, OR, and I’m looking forward to finding the folks here who will fight the good fight alongside our compatriots south and north of us.

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      I think the thing is, Kieran is painting a specific and small segment of Christians with this brush. They’re not saying “all Christians” or “all very conservative Christians” or even “all really conservative politically engaged / Tea Party Christians.” They’re saying, Christofascists. People who have quite literally spent their entire lives teaching their children how *not* to be reached with reason and sitdowns and respectability politics.

      It’s not like saying “you can’t reason with Muslim people,” it’s like saying “you can’t reason with a guy who has strapped a bomb to his chest in order to earn 72 virgins.” There are levels to every religion and organization, and the levels these people have reached are a bit mad. They have their own educational tools, radio stations, schools, and churches. They’re terrifying.

      I say this with confidence, because this is how I was raised. My mom was somewhat more liberal in some things for some years, and I’m obviously long out of it, but there is absolutely no reasoning with someone like my dad, who thinks as a SWM Christian he’s the most oppressed group in America and everyone is out to get him. There’s no reasoning with Mike Farris (who I’ve met), who thinks he is literally a Culture Warrior for God. There’s no reasoning with the pastor of the church where I was raised, who’d be quite happy to see all gay people in concentration camps, people in interracial marriages should at least be in prison, women who wear pants should be stoned, etc. The only thing keeping someone like that pastor from actually carrying his wishes out right now are the laws. And the laws, well, they’re on shaky ground under Trumppence. Kieran isn’t saying they need to be killed or imprisoned, but roundly defeated, given no ground on which to enact their awful plans. Because their awful plans look exactly like the ‘Sharia law’ they so loudly complain about, just under a different name.

      In short, knowing about whom Kieran is speaking, I don’t think their rhetoric is wrong at all. I get why it’s a bit scary to you, but as someone coming from that background, I found it important and necessary.

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      So long as we remember we are fighting with the ideology not the individuals. It is the policies in support of their white might makes right theological ideologies, not those who are swept into these faiths, which we fight and oppose.
      Every tool can become a weapon, most often to be used against us. Tread carefully.

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      I believe what they are doing wrong is painting all of Islam with the same brush, and that is not what is happening here. We would be remiss if we were faced with the equivalent of the Quiverfull movement within Islam and refused to stand up to it – somethign the right accuses us of doing. Indeed, when extreme forms of Islam limits the rights of women abroad we must always speak.

      What we must never do is attribute those idea to all Muslims. What we must never do is attack the people themselves instead of the movement, by creating rules and laws that discriminate against them. That is certainly not what is happening here.

      No one is saying all Christians think this way. I marched last weekend with three Christians who are fervent in their desire to stand up to Trump. Many Christians believe Jesus called them to minister to the poor, to refugees and to all immigrants. I haven’t heard any liberals blame Christianity for this; every lament is about the far right, the evangelical movement*, conservative christians. I am sure that some liberals have misplaced the blame, but I haven’t seen this happen on a meaningful scale.

      I believe it is absolutely valid to describe characteristics of a particular movement within Christianity. While individuals within it may be flexible, we are certainly not going to make meaningful change without changing the mind of a significant number. It is indeed reasonable to ask whether their beliefs themselves will resist opennes to new ideas. I’m in the midst of reading Quiverfull for the second time, and I agree that the Titus 2 movement is fairly defined by its emphasis on submission and obedience. When you are taught from birth that the answers are in your religion, appeal to secular argument are unlikely to work.

      So, this article is describing characteristics inherent to the group itself. This is very differnt than a stereotype that impugnes negative characteristics to a group one dislikes. There is nothing inherent in Islam that would make one a bad American citizen or a threat to us, especially since there is so much variation within it.

      Also, the article is merely suggesting that we are wasting our efforts. It is not suggesting that we act on the belief that these folkss are intractable. Meanwhile, the Muslim stereotypes are resulting in direct and dire consequences for individuals who are unlikely to embody those stereotypes. A very different situation.

      *I should note here that many Evangelical leaders recently signed a letter opposing the Muslim ban, and I have two close Evangelical friends who are very liberal, so even this grouping isn’t perfect.

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      Because in context it’s true. It is also true in the context that you can’t convince someone who is zealous in Any religion to give it up. You can’t convince zealots of any origin to give up their cause by telling them its illogical. That is merely a reality of human psychology.

      You can make the environment around such groups such that others are less likely to join their cause & those on the edge may be more likely to leave. You can make sure they know they aren’t the majority & don’t represent the only perspective. For instance, christian groups that denounce radial christians are useful just as are islamic groups that denounce radicals who share their beliefs. Just are people in any contingent who reign in those in their group who tend to get a little out of hand. Every group has them. Those who get too self-righteous & go to far. They’re only dangerous when they gain a following & start to convince others.

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      The key difference here is that the far-right paints all Muslims with a certain brush regardless of their affiliations, beliefs, etc. That is an arbitrary cause for censure. On the other hand, the left rallies against the theocratic far-right not because they are ultra conservative Christian or because of certain beliefs they hold, but because of actions they personally take that cause others harm. That’s a huge difference. No one cares that the Amish see us all as godless heathens. A lot of secular people can actually appreciate their way of life even if they disagree with their beliefs. They don’t force us to assume their way of life and are happy to live and let live, which is exactly what this gaggle of Christofascists refuses to do.

      Another way to look at it is through the lens of power differences. Radical Islamists (the Muslim counterparts to Christian theocrats) don’t have much if any structural power in our society and neither do moderate Muslims, so it makes no sense to feel threatened by them or single them out for critique. Whereas the Christian far-right has an enormous amount of structural power in our Christianity-dominated cultural and political landscape, and they openly abuse that power.

      Self-critique is very important, but it’s equally important not the lose the forest for the trees. A lot of liberals weigh means much more heavily than material outcomes, and I think that’s sort of why we’re in this terrible place currently. Democrats stuck to civil discourse and tradition while the opposition didn’t respect that and walked all over it. That’s why trying to convince theocratic ultra-conservative Christians won’t work. They don’t respect rationalism so you’re gonna hit a brick wall using that tactic. Tactics far more likely to work are exposing them for their abusive actions, both against others AND their own (especially kids), exposing their ultimate *goals* (not beliefs) as something that shouldn’t be given the time of day in a society that wants to remain free and democratic, and disrupting their fundraising through direct action from other Christians (not through the state b/c that would be hella sus).

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      I agree and suspect that this entire article is part of a bogus attempt to split the populace and create chaos in which Trump and the right that put him in office can achieve their goals while we argue and attack each other. The religious story is just a way to activate people through fear and hate. Pence is probably as much of a pawn as Trump. In any case, I agree with personal and meaningful conversation to clarify our common ground. We probably all want social justice, safe places to live, jobs and health. Its a simple place to start dialogue and cut down the confusion.

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      You cannot “out-love” religious zealots. It isn’t possible. They will only see it as weakness on your part and evidence that they are righteous (since god made you be nice to them”. They are not capable of rational, critical thought and do not accept facts based on history, science or logic. These people are cultists and dangerous as any islamic extremist. They will gladly die for their beliefs and, just like islamic terrorists, believe that they will be rewarded in heaven for being martyrs.

      How do I know this to be true? 16 years of southern evangelical indoctrination, 10 years of evangelical bible school and parents who match the profile outlined in the article. When I say these people are a threat to everything and everyone, I mean it, and I know first hand what I am talking about.

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      Hi. I want to respond to the sincere question and desire for discussion on the topic expressed by a fellow reader of the article. I am not sure who you feel is being painted with a broad brush. I felt that this was a successful endeavor to describe an important phenomenon that many people aren’t fully aware of. I was educated and want to continue to learn. If you want to add information or caveats please do.

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      The difference is that these people have taken over most of the positions of power in the most powerful nation on Earth, and they are on track to take over completely.
      We no longer have the option of being kind and fuzzy. This really is a war. They understand that. Not all progressives do, but we need to. This is a time for Churchill, not Chamberlain.
      Read The Handmaid’s Tale in order to understand what I’m talking about. It can happen, and it will happen (or close enough), if we don’t stop it now. I really don’t want to spend the last days of my life fighting a guerilla war or living as an expat in Canada or Europe.

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    I was trained for this stuff as well……. horrifying. I’m believing less in a god now a days and probably never believed in one in the first place. Which means I wasted my time hating and hoping for no reason. It’s scary and sad. Mostly scary. Dark times are coming, lets try to shine some light guys.

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      Avawn – just because those folks twisted God and faith for you (and so many others) doesn’t mean they’re not out there, in a truer form, waiting for when you’re ready. Never lose hope. Now people like you and Kieryn can expose the truth about this to us – who need it very much right now!

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      Avawan, you should be telling us of your experiences as well. Anyone who has some insight here should help us all to learn what we are dealing with. Kieryn’s article was immensely helpful and we need as many stories around this topic as we can get to wrap our heads around what we are dealing with. Also your personal perspective will have even greater value. Please write about your experiences. Please share. This is your time.
      Also please let me know if you do. Amber@redunyc.com and we are shooting a piece about “bridges” such as you so if you would like to be part of our shoot please write us. Thanks.

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      I grew up a pretty conventional Catholic, and I too got depressed when I realized I didn’t believe in Jesus like I was “supposed to.” It was scary, frankly. I’ve since come to the opinion that “Jesus” was a very nice prophet or group of prophets, or perhaps just a metaphor all together. Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John are useful narrators for all the stories collected into what became the Bible. Most of the painful contradictory stuff was added in by Popes and mistranslations and time… I always remember the Pope was once a ruler. Of course he’s going to be shady at times.

      So God? Not so much the almighty being sitting on high, but perhaps the spark of life? What are scientific waves, gravity, particules, everything ultimately made of? What IS matter? Maybe the connection is “God.” Less “intelligent design” and more universe DNA. I don’t know. I do know our definition has to change based on what we learn. And we can’t govern based on the intelligent design arguments. It’s just not science.

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      It’s scary, but you are a light in a dark place for those that are also finding themselves in the same position as you were.
      Personally I am an atheist. I was raised in an agnostic home, but went to a Church School in England. As the years have passed I have come to realize that I am not an agnostic. I am atheist, and its is such a relief to finally feel the weight lifted from my mind.
      I hope that you find your way and also feel relief one day, whatever your final destination.
      Thanks for posting.

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      It took me 40 years to come to that realization. Feel lucky that you’re still young & you can now live your life in reality. My aha moment was having children & realizing that me as a human could not send my children to an eternal lake of fire just for disagreeing with me so how could an “all loving God” do that. What an evil god.

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      Two groups these Evangelicals have forgotten about are moderate Christians and the second largest (and growing) group related to religion; those who don’t affiliate themselves with an organized religion and atheists. Sixty five percent of the U.S. population identifies as Christian, five percent as other religions and thirty percent as non religious or atheist and again that group is growing probably due in part to their disgust with religious involvement in politics. In that way these hardcore “Christians” are shooting themselves in the foot as it were. They drive away their own members over time. We have actually seen the decline of influence of the Tea Party as most mainstream Americans now view them as the freaks they are. A moderate Christian is no more interested in seeing this country run by a theocracy than an atheist is. As for Mike Pence, I have noticed even the most casual voter or political enthusiast knows what he is. On one hand I want Trump out but on the other hand I don’t because those of us on the Left (and probably many on the Right as well) know how much more dangerous Pence is. The only real plan would be to impeach Trump and then have dirt on Pence ready to go and start the impeachment process 30 seconds after he is sworn in. Of course that would make Paul Ryan next in line, speaking of dangers, but I guess you have to start somewhere.

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    Thank you for this. I was on some tangent of this culture as someone who was homeschooled by their grandma in elementary school only, but thankful that since she was Catholic we never got too deep into this. Hope you’re healing from the wounds i’m sure this has left.

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    i was a christian homeschooler, too–luckily i was pulled away from it bit by bit over the course of high school after my mom came out of the closet. (i’m writing a novel about that whole thing now; would love to talk about it if you’re interested!) this essay is chilling and all too familiar–glad you’re getting the word out about this world.

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    I have a question: you mention ‘non-discrimination based on race’ as being something they are against, but I’m confused as to why? There’s plenty of Evangelical people of color around, are they not welcome to this party? Is there a biblical connection to racism involved (such as was the case with Mormons)?
    I get the anti-science, the pro-discrimination/punishment for lots of other groups but racism is just so random to throw in there? This is confusing to me.

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      Evangelical conservatism is extremely racist, despite the fact that POC are there. POC are only acceptable if they act white, tbh. Hating on illegal immigrants (i.e. non-black POC) was common place in every environment I was in. As far as biblical connections…there’s a lot of genocide of other races in the bible and the Crusades were white europeans taking over countries, racism and christianity are very closely linked, despite people of color participating in it.

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            Bear in mind that some of the first Europeans to settle in America, the Pilgrims, had not gone through the Renaissance–this came later to England than the rest of Europe, just before Shakespeare. In other words, the Puritans were Medieval in mind-set. See where this is going? Think Salem witch trials . . .
            By the way, the Renaissance was essentially a transfer of science and culture from the Islamic world to the Christian world, something conveniently missing or down-played in many history books.

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          Fred Clark on Slacktivist does a really great job of demonstrating that a lot of American, conservative, white Christian movements grew out of a need to justify racism–as far back as the fight over slavery. In the sense that the spirit of Christ’s teachings would absolutely prohibit slavery–and yet you can also find individual passages in the Bible that speak of having slaves. So, all pro-slavery Christians needed to do was develop the idea of “Biblical inerrancy”–the idea that every word of the Bible is God-breathed and absolutely perfect and unquestionable. The words, exactly, themselves. Interpretations are just liberal bias, clearly.

          This idea was and is still huge in Evangelicalism. <a href="https://twitter.com/NateSparks130/status/824447158590013440"Here's a recent twitter thread on how innerancy is based in ableism and ethnocentrism and how it keeps the powerful in power.

          …I don’t know if this explains how they justify it, exactly, but it’s not a coincidence that there’s so much racism involved. Evangelicalism was designed to make sure the powerful stayed that way.

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            I believe that the bible does indeed have some things to say about slavey – it seemed to assume that it was part of the world, but if you did keep slaves there were certain ways you should treat them – for example, if someone serves you as a slave for six years, you are then supposed to give them freedom, and “not send them away from you empty-handed”; you were supposed to give them a good stash of food and drink to take with them.

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            I agree. I think the key here is about keeping the powerful in power. The rest is really a way of justifying the first. Give people someone or something to a) be frightened of and b) feel superior to and then c) provide them with an inarguable source of justification to feel both scared and superior with a CAUSE and you’re in business. The lure of some prospect of money helps too even if you have to dedicate some of it to, in their case God.

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          From my experience within this movement, anti-black racism was abundant, but usually couched in “cultural” terms. That is, “black culture” was deemed to be “pagan” and “ungodly” and viewed as a danger to proper Christian morality. Black influences on music and media were sources of white Christian hysteria, and black people (especially black youth) were seen as sexually immoral and frequently violent or criminal. While in my experience, most people I knew weren’t outright pro-discrimination, they still harbored a lot of religious hostility towards black people. Many also objected to anti-discrimination measures because they felt they were “unnecessary” and “government overreach” and determined that racism was a thing of the past.

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            I call what you’re describing a cult. I’ve never trusted them. I totally get what you’re saying and thank you for saying it. I have found them suspecious for a long time. In fact there are books on this subject that any library will be happy to provide.

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            I am black and what I’m reading is really sad, but at the same time it’s funny that so much energy, time, and money is put into us and keeping us down. In my opinion it’s just a waste because at the end of the day and all the BS, you still have to pay your bills. And we all know bills are not racist.

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          When I was growing up, my mom met some far right folks who had a whole manifesto explaining how the bible says anyone who is of a non-white race is an animal and anyone of mixed race will automatically go to hell.

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        My experience, living in an area heavy in this sort of beliefs, is that if a POC acts white, and suitably humble, then that’s different somehow. Those folks are *their* black folks, and they’re different from other black folks, and no, they would *not* want their daughter to marry one.

        Not sure how representative this area is of others, but that seems to be the way it is here.

        My mother had distant relatives that were snake handlers – somehow she got roped into going to a service – I think she was late teens – with another relative that wasn’t as much into it, but, you know… family.

        In the late 1930s, my mother may have been the originator of the idea “I noped on out of there.”

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          This is SO true. Happened to my family in the church I grew up in (predominantly white) as well as the church I just left a few months ago. Now that I have my own family, the lack of acknowledgement of racism and the plight of POC in america just got to be too much for us. We were indeed “good” black people in their eyes…until we left of course. They certainly did have the attitude that we, especially my babies, belonged to them.

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        I so appreciate your honest. You further confirm that the truth is not hard to see or talk about regardless of your race, culture, and/or political views. Much respect and appreciation!

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      I grew up in the same culture as the author, in the south. I’d say that they’re just racist, and then they find a “biblical” justification for it.

      In my religious culture, the transatlantic slave trade was praised as being the way God decided to introduce African people to Christianity. A good example of this argument is Doug Wilson’s “Southern Slavery As it Was” and “Black and Tan.” Wilson, btw, is a partner with The Gospel Coalition, which is one of the more powerful organizations in evangelicalism, so he’s not exactly “fringe.”

      Chattel slavery was defended because of the Curse of Ham– which is a badly misunderstood rendering of Genesis 9, which has the descendants of one of Noah’s sons serving his brothers in perpetuity. So, black people are, biblically, *supposed* to serve whites. It’s God’s curse, who are we to undo it?

      Another argument tossed around for segregation and racial purity was Acts 17 and a phrase supposedly about how God set up nations and for people to living in the “bounds of their habitations.” I heard this argument when I was being counseled for marriage by a Baptist minister who said he’d never marry an interracial couple and that was why.

      I also heard it from a preacher at a church service, when a black family came in and the preacher got up and told them to leave, that they weren’t within the “bounds of their habitation.”

      There’s also Christian opposition to this way of thinking– a book written by a fundamentalist Christian against this whole argument style called “One Blood: The Biblical Answer for Racism” by Wieland. That book was sold in my fundamentalist Christian college bookstore– Pensacola Christian, which was founded partly to oppose Bob Jones University– of Bob Jones vs. The United States fame. It was against the rules at BJU to date someone of a different race until 2000, and PCC’s founders were explicitly against it. Didn’t stop them from being hella racist in their own way, but their racism was more of the “inner city culture is so violent and vulgar” variety instead of the “white and black people aren’t allowed to mix” stream of thought.

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        I was homeschooled and my curriculum came from Pensacola Christian School, and our “graduation” was held at PCC. So random that you mentioned that. All of the curriculum I was taught, history especially, was drenched in this racist ideology. I hated every minute of it. My parents thought they were doing the right thing by homeschooling us, but they did more harm than good choosing a conservative curriculum that nearly brainwashed us into thinking as long as we were conservative Christians, we weren’t like “those other” black people. Thank goodness I went to a secular university..fully saw the light.

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      In Evangelical thought, the different races are born from the three sons of Noah. African people are cursed forever because their progenitor, Ham, saw his father naked one time. Thus, because they’re cursed, (as the thought process goes) they’re not as good as Asians/Europeans (descended from Japeth) and Semitic peoples (Descended from Shem). This has been your Sunday School lesson for this week.

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      The demographic tends to vote Democrat would be my guess. Minorities overwhelmingly voted Democrat in this most recent election. Ultimately, religion is used as a tool, but the ultimate power is in the White House, not in the churches. They care that you identify as Christian only so far as who you’ll vote for when the ballots come in.

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      If you knew Evangelical POCs, you know that they feel unwanted and unseen when they try to be a part of a White led/majority church.

      Heck, I am Korean/White and my wife is White, and our pastors thought it was a good idea for us to leave the church because we, I don’t know, stood up for people of color and other marginalized people.

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      As an African American woman who was a part of a congregation that did not overtly call themselves “Evangelical”, but they definitely fit that description, I can understand your confusion. However, I would suggest to you that the race-based discrimination that is common in these churches is usually very different than typical acts of overt racism. It can be subtle, and people of color who fully conform to the culture of these churches are welcomed, and likely don’t feel discriminated against. Those of us who desire pastoral leadership and church engagement that specifically speak to the unique and sometimes difficult issues around race, injustice, and inequality eventually realize that those issues are not deemed worthy of attention in church. My family’s worth to our former church went only as far as our willingness to conform to the church culture, and deny the hurt we were feeling due to racial tensions and injustice, and our church’s blind eye to those issues.

      Bottom line: most of these churches dismiss the notion of on-going racial injustice and discrimination, so they are definitely unlikely to support non-discrimination legislation.

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      The thing with these people is that a lot of their ideology is not actually based on the bible. They have a set of beliefs that has evolved and been influenced by aspects of American culture and politics. The fact that they see themselves as biblical doesn’t mean that they actually ARE biblical in all that they do. They will interpret the bible through the beliefs they already hold, not the other way around. I was raised by evangelicals and have read the bible myself, and trying to point out inconsistencies between what the bible actually says and how they interpret it only lead to them avoiding the topics or telling me I needed to get a pastor to interpret it for me.

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      Because they believe in a hierarchy where whites are the rulers. If you look at the history of Christianity, no one who hasn’t been white has held a major influential position. The closest we can get is Martin Luther King JR, and he was murdered because he wanted equality of the races. The Mormon Church has been the most blatant perp in this, where they literally believe that black skin is the mark of cain and red skin is the mark of (i forget it’s name off the top of my head). They only allowed people of different skin colors into their congregations because it is a form of redemption, but they will never be able to hold a position of authority.

      Hope that clarifies things for you. I grew up in this community as well.

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      I was homeschooled as well due to overcrowding in the public schools and the desire of my own heart to be taught the Bible along with many other studies. Plus it was important to me to start each day out with prayer and the pledge of allegiance.
      I received a very well rounded Christ-centered education for which I am profoundly thankful!
      When I graduated I was well prepared to enter college. I did well academically and understood my own personal relationship with Christ. A relationship that is more meaningful than anything this world can give. I ended up graduating as a RN and worked my way to a trauma level-1 hospital in Surgical ICU. It was here that I made profound relationships with my colleagues and continued my education on a daily basis, always learning something new to enhance my performance and care as a critical care nurse.
      From here, I was accepted and attended Gonzaga university and completed a graduate degree as a ARNP. Gonzaga richly enhanced my career and continued to nourish my relationship with God.
      For you see, it was during these many years of college that I first lost my 17 yo brother to a traumatic brain injury sustained from playing football and shortly thereafter I was diagnosed with stage 4 breast cancer with metastasis to the liver.
      Due to my relationship with God, I gave all my grievances and burdens to him and began fighting the cancer. God gave me so much peace through all of this and blessed me by allowing me to work 3-12 hr shifts/week as an RN, while attending classes and completing clinical hours. I was often so tired, but God carried me through all the way. I am happy to report that I completed my graduate education in 2014 and God brought the perfect job into my life. I didn’t have to search at all!! A Doctor who had met me through doing multiple treatments and reading scans during my battle with cancer, found me in the hospital one day and asked me if I was completed with graduate school and did I have any job prospects yet? I was scheduled to take the boards exam in one week so I was certainly available as long as I passed. I did pass and interviewed the next Friday and over the weekend reviewed the contract. On Monday in August 2014, I signed the contract and became part of a team that was brought straight from God into my life. It was perfectly orchestrated!!
      I am so grateful to have God in my life for guidance and I applaud my parents for nurturing me in the Lord from a young age. I have been able to share my story to so many people who have just been diagnosed with cancer and they are scared, but then they see that I am healthy and working and it gives them so much hope!!
      I cannot express enough how beautiful it is to live in a country where we have the freedom to stand for our right to speech, religion, and Liberty!! We are a blessed country and we need to pray for our president and his cabinet no matter who has been the elected choice. I am just so thankful everyday to be well and alive! I am thankful I was given the choice to vote, and I will stand behind our elected president and pray for his success as well as the success of the USA!!

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      No, actually, they don’t. Their films about Jesus are filled with pink-skinned blue-eyed people. Jesus Himself is depicted as blond. I once watched a short Christian Fundamentalist film about one of their theme parks run for children, based loosely on Disneyland, with people wandering around playing Biblical characters. The crowning glory of the family’s experience was an encounter with “Jesus,” whom they said they could recognize because of his white robe and blond hair. A popular book, Heaven is (for) Real, was studied intensely by these Fundies in as many churches as they could infiltrate. I was attending a United Methodist Church at the time where this had happened. The book was said to be the afterlife experiences of a young boy who had died and then been revived. He was said to have painted a picture of Jesus, which was touted among these people as showing what Jesus really looked like. A large picture of Jesus was available on a website, and the Fundies in this church enthusiastically ordered it and hung it in a prominent place. The man in the picture looked a little like Rand Paul, with very light brown hair, small even nose, and light green eyes. When I pointed out that Jesus had been born in the ancient Middle East and must surely have had something like long black hair, dark brown eyes, and olive skin (as a few very early Christian woodcuts do indicate), they were mad at me. By the way, this book has since been admitted by its authors to be complete fiction. But that portrait was not taken down. They want to believe that Jesus and his cohorts somehow shared their own magical superior Northern European genes.

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      That is one of the long list of things these people do not realize, I would say. In the crazy Christian world view, the purpose of a Jew and of the state of Israel is to create the conditions and the locale of Armageddon, the world-flattening battle that will spark The Rapture and the world’s end, which they believe is a positive thing (for them).

      The Israeli government and evangelicals are pretty strange bedfellows. See http://www.haaretz.com/israel-news/.premium-1.736790

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      Kieryn put into words all my conclusions about the homeschooled and the “Republican so-called Christian movement”. As I have been saying, I am more fearful of the moral majority legislators than I am of Trump, and kieryn’s article confirms all my fears.

      I am on the church council for a UCC progressive church. I have been trying to explain these realities to my minister and others and I get a blank stare.

      I would like to talk to Kieryn about how I can help disseminate her article to other liberal denominations. I have the resources to help.

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    I was also homeschooled religiously – luckily my parents were libertarians who weren’t that into government and let me read Harry Potter and listen to rock music, but I knew people like this. I had friends like this.
    You’re right, the left doesn’t get it. The unyielding belief that you are right, that everyone who doesn’t agree with you is going to hell, is strong, and it is terrifying. It took a lot of strength for me to break those bonds and I wasn’t all that involved in this community – applause to you for breaking out as well.

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      Hi Robin … just want to say that I am on the left and I do get it. I know I’m going to hell because I don’t buy into the poor theology that drives the far right ideology. I am a heretic, a nasty woman, a libertard and a snowflake. I know I will never measure up to the standards the far right espouses because I actually think for myself and I will not allow my image of God to be rubber-stamped by anyone. Just wanted to say that those of us who live on the left have fully realized how we are viewed by those who want to destroy our sense of well-being, even though we live and work together in America. We’ve known for many, many decades that a culture war was being waged against us. We’ve also known that the whole homeschool movement and the undermining of public education was supporting the ideological agenda.

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        I only just saw this, so this is a kinda of belated reply, but, I just wanted to say,
        it’s not “the whole homeschool movement”. It is a specific subset of homeschoolers, the far-right evangelical christian homeschoolers. I wasn’t really one of them, though I knew a lot of them.
        The people who got me to break away from that subculture, though? They weren’t people who had gone to public school, they were homeschoolers. Liberal homeschoolers and unschoolers who were kind and weird and made me realize that this wasn’t the only option. Saying that the whole homeschool movement is right-leaning and has an ideological agenda is inaccurate and unfair. That’s all.

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    Ok speaking as a science educator at a community college in arizona, i would like to say that i am a leftie who *does* get it: I my conservative students are smart, passionate, and organized, they just come from a different culture and experience than mine.

    What I *don’t* get is how to reach these students: my science training includes zero information on how to make classroom content equally accessible across these culture gaps. Any advice? Like, I can feel the energy in the room change when I talk about evolution or climate change. Arguing facts is useless. I don’t know how to invite the conversation without making my classroom political.

    Thank you for this terrific article.

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      My advice is to keep teaching facts. Don’t compromise, don’t coddle these people. You’re planting seeds that may grow one day. They won’t be won by any type of persuasion. We were taught every cliche in the book about how to argue with “evolutionists”. Until I wanted to learn, there was nothing anyone could say to me to get through to me. Some of your students will want that, maybe they don’t know it yet. But your uncompromising devotion to facts, logic, and science will be the best gift you can give them. We were taught that you were all stupid and we had the best answers. They need to see the world is so much bigger than their tiny scripts.

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      Hi, I used to be a science journalist, and have some potential insight. Creationists do read science news and one article I wrote on the origins of life was reposted on a creationist site. One commenter I remember very amused at how scientists think they can know everything, even though they do not create those things. However my article, in the list below, had room for these responses because it had a sense of humor about the limitations of scientists (in it, one tries to brush up on his knowledge by googling), and uses words like “mere chemistry” – a friendly choice of words to creationist perspectives, though not intended that way. My point is that there are ways of coding yourself as friendly to different beliefs about where life comes from while still delivering scientific facts. Part of that comes from humorously conveying what spots are still knotty for scientists working in these fields.

      http://www.livescience.com/6539-theory-life-energy-source.html

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      Hi, I used to be a science journalist, and have some potential insight. Creationists do read science news and one article I wrote on the origins of life was reposted on a creationist site. One commenter I remember was very amused at how scientists think they can know everything, even though they do not create those things. However my article, in the link below, had room for these responses because it had a sense of humor about the limitations of scientists (in it, one tries to brush up on his knowledge by googling), and uses words like “mere chemistry” – a friendly choice of words to creationist perspectives, though not intended that way. My point is that there are ways of coding yourself as friendly to different beliefs about where life comes from while still delivering scientific facts. Part of that comes from humorously conveying what spots are still knotty for scientists working in these fields.

      http://www.livescience.com/6539-theory-life-energy-source.html

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      Hi Rey! my advice would be to really invest in that beautiful thing that scientists have to the desire to be always learning more.

      I think that my journey into cracking open the shell people tried to put over my scull really strayed with a desire to always be learning.

      So for the kids to see that learning and expanding knowledge and having a dynamic, flexible brain that can handle new knowledge is desirable and good.

      Learning isn’t just about repeating and memorising things someone has told you but to come up with your own questions and to find the answers and that those answers tend to come from different places, not all the same place.

      Sorry, this is so wordy I just woke up but does that make sense? If I had to trace back to what started my journey it was that. And having ridiculously patient friends, and hopefully those will come for your students too. Good luck!

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      My experience has been that the culture we are talking about sees the scientific community as a dark mirror of itself: religiously committed to an essential dogma, but the wrong one. You can challenge that by teaching about the process of science, which at its best is anti-dogmatic and commited to a theory only until some new theory does a better job of describing the universe. You don’t attain celebrity status among scientists by following and repeating, but by innovating and challenging. The joke is that a scientist who says all the other scientists are wrong is called a fool, but that a scientist who *proves* all the other scientists are wrong is called a Nobel laureate.

      You can use that to deconstruct their notion of what science is: not a set of beliefs claiming to be the truth, but a set of tools for finding the truth.

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      I grew up attending Christian schools until college. Although they (mostly) were much more sane and moderate than the homeschooling experience described in the article, there were people who were close to the Christofascist movement as the author describes. Christian schools typically don’t have a lot of financial resources, so anyone who is vocal and threatens to withdraw their kids, and therefore money, tends to get more influence than is justified. My dad was a pastor, and although very conservative, is thoughtful and introspective to a point. Over the years I have seen my mom and sibling moving further to the right until now they seem to be very narrowly apart from the most extreme right/Right ilk of Christianity. I have also had a great deal of scientific training throughout undergrad and med school. I went through years of struggling with reconciling my faith with the observable universe, so perhaps I can offer some helpful insight.

      1. Try not to be confrontational. I have found that the far right won’t listen to their opponent, but rather tries to state their point by twisting or ignoring what you are saying. It is very frustrating and difficult sometimes not to get emotionally caught up in a yelling match, but that is often what they seem to want, or at least confrontation. This bolsters their belief that ALL scientists, and really anyone who is an outsider, is deceived and wrong and blinded to their version of “truth”. I grew up in Kansas City and if you know anything about the Westboro Baptist Church and/or Fred Phelps, this is what they do. (Fall From Grace, 2007, is an excellent documentary that may help you gain some insight. So is “Jesus Camp” which is about a different group from Missouri that is in the homeschooler movement. Another one that demonstrates these same tactics though from a non-Christian group is the one on Scientology that BBC Panorama did, “Secrets of Scientology with John Sweeney” or even the HBO “Going Clear”. All give good examples of how reason, logic and civil discourse are not really possible. In the Scientology case, one top guy, Mike Rinder, left and now is on Leah Remini’s series. You never know what will spark a person to question what they have been taught and to start seeking the truth and answers for themselves.

      2. Don’t fall into the false dichotomy of science vs religion- Both sides have those who do this, and it doesn’t help advance the discussion. They are not mutually exclusive of each other, and there are many people of faith in the sciences. The religious right are masters at setting this up along with straw man arguments.

      3. Strive to fully explain what “Theory” truly means- The right throws it around, as does our culture at large, to mean simply someone’s opinion. If you break down the scientific progression from hypothesis (and how it should be a null hypothesis that is either disproven or supported) to theory built upon multiple hypotheses that are supported by a large body of research and evidence, this should eventually open the door to your students considering some other views vs their dogma. This could be viewed as the baby steps needed to get started.

      4. Acknowledge scripture, but consider the context, historical and cultural, of when it was written and how language changes over time – I would suggest using “evolves” judiciously when discussing how language changes as many of your students would likely stop listening as soon as that word is uttered. Consider reading several translations for a broader understanding. Not everyone is an expert on ancient languages, especially many pastors who like to portray themselves as such, and there is some horrible scholarship in this regard out there. For instance, in Genesis the King James says man is to have dominion over the earth. Today, most would think that means we are in a confrontation with nature and we must subdue and dominate it. I believe a truer interpretation is that we are to be stewards of the earth that God has entrusted to us. Ask them if they don’t think God will be upset with us for trashing his creation. For me, this works well to get the wheels turning. Don’t jump right in to climate change. Again, they will likely tune you out if you do, but rather build a foundation on which to then address it. Kind of like the parable of the man who builds his house on sand without a foundation, they don’t have solid ground on which much of their indoctrination is based. They may think they do. I’m not advocating trying to destroy their world view or belief system, but keep in mind they may be quite vulnerable at this stage. Everything they have been taught is now coming into question and that is a frightening thing.

      5. In time, try to get them to consider that perhaps the Bible isn’t the “complete book of knowledge about everything” that they were told it is – Most have likely been taught that it is an “owner’s manual” and that the answers to every question can be found there. In my opinion, that is claiming more than what God claims about it within the Bible itself. This is a difficult thing to accept, however. It is comforting to have something you can defer to as the ultimate authority, and ignore any issue that doesn’t fit neatly within it. I suppose the concept of the Christian ghetto would fit into this. If something is outside their understanding from the Bible, they ignore it. If they can’t see it, it doesn’t exist. If they have to confront something right in front of them, it then becomes evil, wrong, shameful, etc. It is easier to cloister themselves in their own community than to engage “others” outside their world. They have been taught that world is evil and therefore must be converted to their belief system through any means necessary. To them, it is a war. The Bible doesn’t claim to have the answers to everything to ever arise, but is a book of knowledge and wisdom whose principles can be applied thoughtfully and prayerfully to try to discern the will of God. It is not a hammer or club to beat someone with. The Christian right love to use the passage about the armor of God, where the Bible is a sword and view it as a weapon, not a tool to be used to know God better. The Bible was written over thousands of years, and is a distillation of what God’s message is to us. It is foundational and simplified for the greatest number of people throughout history to be able to understand. It is the “Living Word” of God, and the Holy Spirit is sent to be a comfort and to help guide us. If they believe in an infinite God, no book will ever contain all there is to know of Him. No book could. He is much bigger and greater than that. However, a book can contain the basics of what we need to know in order to start our journey to better know Him.

      I went through years of struggle myself with much grief and heartache, and realized long ago that struggling through many of these issues is part of the journey of life. The age of the universe or the earth is not something that impacts salvation, despite what “Creation Scientists” will say (very popular in the home schooler movement as well). In fact, my dad has told me that when he was in seminary, the day-age and gap hypotheses were considered perfectly compatible with orthodox Christian beliefs. When I was in high school in the 80s, both had become heresy to many. If you even considered the earth could be billions of years old you were being corrupted by the “world”, despite the (poetic) language of Genesis of the earth being without form and void, and the Spirit of God moving across the face of the waters, both of which suggest that something did exist prior to God reforming the earth into what we see today.

      I hope some of this helps you, and that God can use you to foster the minds of your students to be the best humans they can be. Christ himself said the greatest commandment was to love God, and the second was just like it — to love your neighbor as yourself. This is what the religious right has lost sight of.

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      If these students have truly been taught how to think critically within certain bounds, you might reach them by setting up cognitive dissonance. Show them that critical thought cannot have boundaries except logical boundaries. Dogma cannot withstand the brutal honesty of good and logical arguments.

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      My advice is just keep teaching the facts. I considered myself a creationist just three years ago. I had to take a Biology class and lab in college, and sat through it the whole time disagreeing quietly and thinking it was bs, but as the teacher presented fact after fact about evolution and different aspects of science we were taught was wrong, I started to realize the worldview I had grown up with didn’t hold water and that evolution and climate change were studied, researched facts that actually made sense.
      So, even if your students are sitting there disagreeing, over time they may realize what they were taught doesn’t add up. You just have to tell it like it is.

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      As to evolution – try using the concept of allele frequencies in different populations of the same species. Tay-Sachs in Ashkenazi and Sephardic popultions and in other ethnic and racial groups. If students come from a religious world view, the disease incidence could give them something to think about. After all, the basic unit of selection and ultimately evolution is the gene. And you might get some ideas from reading Dean Hamer’s book The God Gene. There is quite a lot of neurophysiology in it, as well as population genetics. Try not to get yourseld fired.

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      I briefly attended such a church in my teen years. My devout and highly intelligent Jewish biology teacher (who also loved the Bible but had read it in Hebrew and understood poetry) really helped us out. He gave a brief speech saying our Biblical beliefs were fine, and he didn’t want to force us to believe differently. He said he did not mean to attack our belief that God had created the world but just needed us to show that we were paying attention to the details of living creatures. He laid out specimens in order on counters around the room, and Fundamentalist kids could get good grades if they would accurately describe the specimens with a few precise details as listed. In this way, we were able to learn enough details about biology to satisfy the curricular goals and generally understand the categories of plants and animals on Earth. Also, we could gradually put the pieces together in our minds in later years as we matured and read and saw and heard more.
      The key is to avoid triggering their fear that you will sneakily undermine the faith that is helping them get through each difficult day.

      Incidentally, I am still a Christian, and I still believe in God our Creator. However, I do not expect to understand God. I do not believe in what is called Intelligent Design, and I do not think that we should impose Fundamentalist curbs on our thinking. By definition, God must encompass our entire universe and possibly beyond. I do not expect biological accuracy from books written during the Iron Age, any more than I expect an accurate formula for rocket fuel. Just because Jesus said He was the True Vine, nobody insists that He must have had green leaves sprouting all over Him. Like my old biology teacher, I have come to understand poetry.

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      Perhaps quoting Revelations 11:18. God will destroy those who destroy the earth. Actually all of Revelations is a pretty graphic description of the earth destroyed by climate change. If people think that accelerating “the end days” by helping the destruction of the planet will help them get ascended to heaven, they have sided with those who will be destroyed. Plus they are trying to push the hand of God and God’s timetable, I’m sure God isn’t okay with that. (Not very scientific, but it might make them think).

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      I was taught that scientists hid evidence and lied blatantly in their quest to undermine creationists — all part of satan’s plot. So I legit believed that evolution was merely a nice little theory with not enough facts behind it. I was raised to just ignore secular scientists.
      Be consistent, be positive, openly embrace questioning (the opposite of religious insecurity that demands obedience). Avoid being the asshole that religious propaganda teaches their children that all atheists are.

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      I took a class on evolution in college where the professor broke us up into groups and gave every group a creation myth from a particular religion and/or culture. Each group had to research their creation myth and present it to the class. Of course, the myths were patently ridiculous, with Biblical creation presented right alongside them. I thought this was a great way to illustrate the fact that no one creation myth is inherently more valid than any other. It also forced the Christian Creationists in our class to acknowledge the existence of religious worldviews other than their own. Added bonus– no one could complain that he was ignoring Creationism in favor of exclusively teaching evolution.

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      I’d ask each of your students to create presentations for or against climate change. After each presents their information then have a dialog open to the whole class while reminding everyone to be respectful

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    Yes, this is the culture in which I was raised, though my parents were too poor to be that involved and weren’t this extreme. I can attest that every word of this is true. Thank you for laying this out so clearly.

    There was a young man in my state named Robert Saunders. He was running as a state representative last year. He was a graduate of Patrick Henry, one of those trained to take over America for God. Thankfully, his racism got the better of him and his racist words were spread all over Facebook and the local news, tanking his chances at winning. But there is more where he came from.

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    Is there a good program for assisting teenagers who get kicked out of situations like that? (Especially LGBTQ and such) I would love to help a teenager, but we don’t run in those circles.

    Thanks!

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    Well this article is a whole lot of information that I haven’t seen discussed anywhere else. Never heard of Quiverfull, etc. before. Thank you to the author for illuminating us and good job to Autostraddle for publishing it. Hope to hear more from the author on this site.

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      The Duggar family of the 20 kids and more or whatever it is called tv show is the biggest representation of the Quiverfull movement in media. They are kind of hard to ignore, but I am impressed that you managed. Impressed and a little jealous! People love them on tv and it started normalizing their religion, which is more than a bit creepy. They are seriously all over the place.

  11. 1

    There needs to be more publicity about the child molestation (Josh Duggar of Duggars 22-and-counting TV fame, physical abuse, cover-ups by prominent members of the community, and murder (by violence or neglect) attributable to fundamentalist home-school culture. After all, these kids can be hidden away from all outside adults – perfect prey for pedophiles and sadists. There are lots of break-away blogs detailing the evil tolerated in the fundamentalist Christian home-school culture, but only fellow break-aways (escapees) and a few students of the sociology of religion follow the blogs.

  12. 0

    I homeschooled my three children as secular as possible, but with just enough Christianity thrown in so that hopefully they didn’t feel like aliens when we interacted with homeschool groups that thought differently than ours, and that was almost all of them. It’s a very difficult balancing act. The Christian entitlement is so pervasive in homeschooling! It’s very difficult to find any curriculum that’s not heavily Christian. The hslda and state organization can’t even imagine there are homeschoolers different from them.i saw the quiverfull movement and Generation Joshua growing and was helpless to speak against it. I would walk around the state convention seeing young people, knowing that some of them were lgbtq, and that the attitudes they had to live with may put their very lives at risk. I am thrilled that you are speaking up. Keep speaking! Maybe some day homeschooling will be more accepting of everyone, but not in this generation.

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      In same boat here with one still school age. Very difficult to find secular homeschoolers though curriculum choices availabe through on line content have improved. Once the GOp ends net neutrality it will be a though slog to find appropriate secular material.

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      This piece was written as known and experienced by the author. The Fairness Doctrine as applied to broadcasts after WWII was removed during Reagan. Though this is a written piece, it still follows that the author has no obligation to describe what she did NOT experience, especially considering that more than one viewpoint is not presented in the atmosphere she grew up in. That is largely the point of this article, actually.

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      Hey Linda,

      We are Catholic and homeschool our three daughters and I was shocked at just how difficult it was to find any curriculum that wasn’t jaded against Catholics. I actually created my curriculum for most of my subjects by incorporating either college curriculums or finding more basic curriculums and adding to them.

      I agree the homeschool community does have a curriculum problem. Too much creationism being taught and lots of more Baptist beliefs. I just started homeschooling my daughters 4 years ago not at all for religious reasons, but for safety and educational purposes.

      What I have noticed about the homeschoolers I see, is that they are diverse. I see liberals, conservatives, very secular and very non-secular and I also see those who are either extreme athletes with many competitions or those who have developmental educational needs that were not being attended to in a public school. I do, however, live in Maryland which isn’t the South which is where I would expect to see more of the Bible beating fundamentalists.

      We do incorporate the Catholic teachings alongside some of the more challenging topics, evolution (which the Catholic Church is not against) and the history of the universe (which the Catholic church is also on board with). Overall though, we keep our education intensely open-minded. I do see some people we network with that are Christians and anti-Catholic which I didn’t even know was a thing until recently.

      Great insight in this piece.

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        We are Episcopalian homeschoolers in the South. The three pillars of the Episcopal church are faith, reason, and tradition, to be held in balance like a three-legged stool. One of our favorite sayings is that we don’t ask people to check their brains at the door. I have three kids with special needs, and have homeschooled all of them in elementary, though two of them do go to public school for the upper grades. I witnessed and experienced a lot of physical and emotional abuse at public school, and even though I don’t live in the town I grew up in anymore, I have an intense distrust of public schools having the best interests of my children in mind, especially when they are little can’t reliably speak up for themselves. One of my older kids was tormented endlessly for being bisexual when he started public school, and the school did nothing until he started acting out. Then their response was to suspend him and refer him to the courts, so yeah, I tend to not trust public schools with my kids.

        I am very liberal, and staunchly believe that religion, if it is something the homeschooler wants to cover should be in its own subject and kindly butt out of all the others, especially science. It is nearly impossible to find science materials that aren’t fundamentalist Baptist based. Episcopalian beliefs and services are near enough to Catholic to be highly suspect to the anti-Catholic crowd. We sometimes feel rather isolated, because the local homeschool group is full of people that fit the description of this article, and actually requires a faith statement that is exclusionary of anyone not a fundamentalist Christian.

        I didn’t know anything about the political organization of HSLDA and the other groups! (hadn’t even heard of the others) I tend to mostly keep my head down and try not to get into religion when we see other homeschoolers, and I’ve only been to the HSLDA website a couple of times. Read an article from them yesterday in fact, about the testing requirement being overturned in my state. It was a silly requirement, since it only mattered that you showed up, the results weren’t sent to the state, only to the parents. I don’t want to go the route of Pennsylvania with home visits and extreme paperwork (mostly because I am naturally unorganized, and lose paperwork), but I do think homeschoolers should be required to register and the testing (if it had been looked into by the state) wasn’t a bad idea either.

        Obviously, I am for the idea of homeschooling being legal, but I was actually a cps worker years ago, and even from that perspective, I don’t know how things could be better set up to protect the child. CPS workers do not have the time or manpower to properly deal with kids they know are being abused, much less adding in home visits with homeschooling families on the idea that they might be abusive. There would have to be a whole new government agency set up, or at least dedicated visitors hired–which isn’t going to happen. The state has a near constant hiring freeze on cps workers, even though the average professional lifespan of a cps worker in my state is 18 months. I made it almost 30, so I guess I was more stubborn than most. My point here is that the state is unlikely to properly monitor things. And honestly, if a family says they are homeschooling to people around them, never registers any child with the public school (so they will never be missed), and doesn’t get a call to cps from somewhere else, no one is going to notice them if they don’t fill out the homeschooling paperwork, so even an agency designed to keep an eye on them would miss them. And if homeschooling was made illegal, the fundamentalists, would just set up a private school and do essentially the same thing. Even if they were attending public school, and some do, at least in this rural area of the South, they still manage to indoctrinate their kids pretty effectively, though maybe they have a better chance of cps getting called if there is physical abuse. I don’t know how to help these kids.

        For the person asking about curriculum. We found Noeo Science to be one of the few that keeps Christian studies out of the science curriculum, but they do have extensive notes on their site on how to make it more fundamentalist friendly, probably because otherwise they wouldn’t sell many sets. We use Memoria Press for most subjects. It does include Christian studies, but gives a solid liberal arts foundation including Latin, Philosophy, Art, Classical Music, and Western Civ. The Christian studies get more obvious in the high school grades, but is more along the lines of CS Lewis than Pat Robertson. I wouldn’t go to them if I was an atheist, but for a Catholic, Orthodox, or Mainline Protestant who is more liberal, they are a better choice than most. They also have a special needs curriculum and the best customer service of any business of kind I ever dealt with.

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      I’m not sure where you’re from, but Seattle has a thriving hundreds-plus group of mostly liberal secular homeschoolers. They do exist! I know it happens a lot, but it all homeschoolers do it for religious reasons.

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      Hey, Linda. Saw your comment and wanted to ask… Since the homeschooling curriculum tends to be more right-leaning and Christian-based, do you have recommendations from your experience that are LESS so? What resources did you take advantage of as a more secular homeschooler? I ask because I might begin homeschooling a child in the next few years. Any help or points in the right (no pun intended) direction are greatly appreciated. I also thought I might not be the only one wondering about alternatives, so if you can shed light on tools that helped in your experience, I hope you will! Thank you!

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    I used to be a very conservative Christian myself- and that was only 7 years ago. I didn’t have the rigid upbringing the quiverfull parents gave their children, as my parents were relatively lax about religion. When I got into my later teens I wanted to find that “true Christian” ideal and it basically lead me to discover how horrifyingly destructive their beliefs and political positions are.

  14. 0

    I was raised in a Southern Baptist household. My family completely bought into the chosen one’s idea. My grandparents were extremely racist. My parents managed to pull away from that thought process. I’m not saying they weren’t prejudice at all but they didn’t consider people of color inferior to them. They left the church they were initially members of because it was whites only. There’s a split in my family that can basically be compartmentalized as people who never went more than 10 miles away from home and still are entrenched with these beliefs and people who left home and was introduced to different people and cultures. Incidentally my parents grew up in the shadows of Bob Jones University. One of my uncles went to school there. They will never be convinced that there way isn’t the only way. All others will go to hell and suffer for eternity. We were taught it was our responsibility to save others. This is what shocks my friends raised outside of evangelical churches. They don’t view it as forcing their beliefs on you. They are in fact saving you. There is no debate, and they can find a bible passage to interpret however they wish to justify anything. When you hear something all your life that is reinforced by those you are surrounded by it becomes difficult to walk away from that indoctrination. There’s a lot of fear in thinking that what you have always known to be true may not be. Even if your faith is fear based. Because it is a sin to even question the word of God. My experience is similar to the author’s but not quite as intense. I look forward to hearing more from her. As well as the thoughts of others.

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        Initially it was trying to find my way into believing in a different god. But it became so difficult because I would get these thoughts once in a while about why if they were right. So I would have these rips of fear about going to hell and suffering for all eternity. I found it somewhat easier to just not believe in any god. Honestly getting away from my family and church, going off to college, and having the ability to think for myself helped quite a bit. I was able to look at the bible, that has been used so viciously to justify hate, and try to look at things a different way. I didn’t have it being reinforced to me every day so I had time to process more. For example, there are many stories in the bible about god testing people’s faith. The story of Abraham being willing to kill his son Isaac to prove his faith in god was always declared as a shining example of faith. Today I just think “what the fuck kind of god would ask you to do that just to prove your faith?”. Plus, if it’s this all knowing god, that knows what is in your heart, why would it even be necessary? Abraham had been promised riches in return for his show of devotion so it wasn’t even pure faith. Then I realized that passages are picked and chosen from the bible to support the narrative of whomever is quoting it. Once I could see the hypocrisy it was easier. I also did a lot of work on childhood sexual abuse. It had been like the perfect storm of shame and fear and believing it was all my fault. Once I realized my sexuality, that just compounded the fear and shame. So I had to work through all of that. Years of intellectual, spiritual, emotional, and mental growth. Some steps backwards. Still to this day I have moments of terror. So it’s been a long and steady process.

        Just a quick and absolutely true story: I was told that when Christians died they ascend to heaven. That all the people I loved, and who loved me, were watching over me from heaven. For years I couldn’t masturbate because I thought I was being watched by dead relatives, and apparently millions of other dead Christians.

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      I totally relate to your feelings of fear as I was raised a holly roller as they called it back in the day( Pentecostal). I struggle with what I believe and who god is to me. Then feeling the fear that I could be fooling myself.
      The Bible is a big part of my memory and I noticed a long time ago that its very complex and can be translated in many different ways to fit many different fenatisysms.
      I also realize that the influence of the belief system of the individual writer or diciple is prevelent.
      In one part we are all created equal we are not male and female beings and in another part a woman must cover her head. I was tought this meant the man. The head of the household.

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    I don’t mean to insult, but this essay is so exaggerated and over the top, a diatribe that promotes a Machiavellian plot onto a group that is little different than any group trying to live their beliefs and promote what they believe to be the best world view for how to live as human in a temporal world. How is what they are doing different from everyone else? LGBT groups promote their worldview and are activists in politics. Climate change acolytes have their priests and are activists in politics. There are mermaids and pirates who want to be taken seriously. Every group wants a piece of the identity-rights pie. It amazes me that anyone can get paranoid and upset at Christians who at their most extreme lament sex outside marriage or what they consider deviant sex or taking a life in the womb, which they consider wrong (it kinda is), or having bathrooms just for boys and girls. Horrors! That’s about as bad as it gets, folks. Some may wag their figurative fingers and want you to feel guilty, but you can say no thanks and go about your business. They are not sending sinners to the gulag, no beheadings here, no gays tossed off buildings, no burning folks alive for blasphemy.

      • 1

        Also I find you’re talk of a “Machiavellian plot” more than a little amusing, since the backlash against LGBT rights (lead by groups and leaders of various religions) has been largely dependent on spreading panic through the notional of a radical gay agenda. A uniting notion of a sinister cable that threatens to devour us all, similar to the Protocols of the Elders of Zion meant to demonize Jews. They might as well call it The Protocols of the Elders of San Francisco.

    • 1

      Yeah, nope. Freshman year at my evangelical liberal arts alma mater, in my required freshman seminar class about the role of Christians in society, we were expected to debate whether or not Christians should take over the government through democratic means in order to implement Old Testament civil law as the law of the land. Including the stoning homosexuals, adulterers, and rebellious children part. This was a popular topic for debate on my campus message boards.

      This is very real and the end game is to turn America into a Christian version of Saudi Arabia.

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      “Christians who at their most extreme lament sex outside marriage or what they consider deviant sex or taking a life in the womb, which they consider wrong (it kinda is), or having bathrooms just for boys and girls. Horrors! That’s about as bad as it gets, folks”

      That is not as bad as it gets. I also grew up in a similar religious cult and these groups of people who call themselves Christians actively brainwash their children – that’s not hyperbole, they use methods of indoctrination that are categorized as brainwashing by scientific and psychological associations. These groups are for exterminating all queer people, they just know that up until now declaring that desire out loud wouldn’t win them any allies. They are for forced conversion therapy. They are for forced sterilization of groups they consider sinful.
      This isn’t people wanting to live they way they choose. This is a huge group of people demanding that everyone ELSE live they way these people decide they should, and are willing to make laws that ensure it. They are terrifying. I know. I was one.

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      No, it’s not painful at all to believe there is something fundamentally wrong with you. To pray and be baptized, in constant fear of eternal damnation, so god will fix you. To know everybody in your life, people you love more than anything else in the world, will turn there backs on you if they knew you were gay. Because according to them you are an abomination. To spend years trying to ignore or get rid of that nawing feeling in your gut that they are right. Because even though intellectually you know it isn’t true you still feel it. To no longer consider yourself a christian and not believe the bible is the word of god yet feel the shame and the fear. Constantly being on guard and afraid to live your life so you aren’t rejected, beaten, or killed in the name of god. To spend most of your life seriously considering ending it. And then spend years trying to dig out of that crap. All because of other people’s faith. It’s incredibly naive to think these views do no harm. Domestic terrorism is overwhelmingly committed by “good christians”. I understand the concern people may have with the language. The author shared her own personal experience. She did not make a blanket statement saying all christians do this. Every person lives their own experiences. Just because mine aren’t the same as others that doesn’t make mine or theirs less valid.

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      Hi Kathryn, I think I get how it could seem over the top, particularly if your experiences with the community referenced have been mostly positive–if in your view they’re mostly trying to spread Christian love, strengthen families, worship as they choose without interference, etc., I can appreciate that.

      It becomes much harder to view the belief system positively when its adherents are making concentrated political efforts suggesting people like you are dangerous and should not have equal protection under the law. When, on account of its teachings and adherents, you or your friends have been kicked out of their homes as kids for acknowledging their sexuality, or when you or your friends worry about getting beaten up in public restrooms for being trans or gender non-conforming in part because of laws supported by the group in question, then it doesn’t seem so blameless. When people claiming to protect families have torn yours apart, their cause doesn’t seem innocuous.

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      I’m Australian. During the leadup to our 2007 Federal elections a candidate for our Conservative party (Liberal & Nation Party Coalition) ended up being dis endorsed by that party because of his public statements about the need to burn lesbians and gay men (and everyone else who is part of our group) at the stake. He was “silly enough” to state his evangelical group’s beliefs publicly in a national TV interview. The uproar was instantaneous and he lost his party endorsement.

      Ten years later, others like him albeit, with the coolness to keep these particular ideas to themselves but openly supportive of many just as appalling, are now holding ministerial position within our now conservative government.

      These people should be feared as they are toxic to society. They also should be respected, given just how clever and determined they have been to forward their beliefs.

      If we want to defeat the influence of their beliefs on our societies, we need to know where they come from and how and why they have achieved so much already. Do not write them off.

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      Not sending sinners to the gulag YET.

      What’s the difference?

      Evangelicals are tainted by the worship of god. An unreasoned and unreasonable authority that extorts adoration and butt-licking. Love me, or suffer eternal punishment. Love at gunpoint is no kind of love.

      God is not just, god is not truthful, god is not one.

    • 2

      The problem with fundamentalist Christians is they are forcing their views on other people, views that can take rights away. I spent 20 years in a church and it wasn’t even fundamentalist, it was kind of conservative, but I always knew the right-wing Christians in America were just something else. And I was taught to hate gays and blindly follow our conservative leaders and basically be close minded to the issues happening in the world.
      All that we’ve worked for, including civil rights and women’s rights, marriage equality and LGBTI rights, could be taken away. And how about autism awareness movements and advanced medicine? All the right wing have to do is deny it and it’s gone. Imagine if they completely disregarded what Hans Asperger and Lorna Wing said and mild autism was no longer diagnosable anymore? I know so many people who will be utterly screwed by that. And what if they got rid of childhood vaccines? Women will have unsafe abortions that can damage their bodies. Fundamentalist Christians don’t actually care about human rights. They don’t. I’ve talked to them. They would vote to ban abortions before they vote to help the homeless, the disabled and people doing it tough on welfare. Those are the things the Bible tells them to care about and they don’t. All those services under Trump will be gutted. They also don’t care much about the environment which is also something Christians are meant to do. 90% of scientists support climate change because there’s actually evidence of it when you actually look into it.
      They’re not Christians. They cherry pick the Bible and choose what ways to live.

      I’ve been under a conservative Christian backed government for two years. They’ve already killed the live music scene making many venues and businesses in the area shut down. They’ve cut the aged pension. They’re destroying homes to put in a motorway. They’ve made up false claims that people on welfare owe them between $3000-$20,000. They’re forcing disabled people in low paid work. They are trying to build a mine close to a reef where many many species of sea life live.

      In my experience Christians in government don’t look out for the common man or even the environment.

      Because of my Christian upbringing I suppressed transgender feelings, so now I’m trying to re-visit them to see if I can finally be what I felt as a child. Churches are very indoctrinating, controlling and it’s bad for people who actually want to think for themselves.

      By the way, I have nothing against more open minded Christians. I’ve just been subject to a lot of conditioning growing up. It’s something that still fills me with anger.

      • 1

        Hi fellow Australian. I hope you feel that you can be yourself and feel better soon. I agree things are not good.

        If we keep working at it we may be able to dump the LNP soon.
        At least the ALP can usually be shamed into better behaviour much of the time. Not ideal though, I know.

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      “They are not sending sinners to the gulag, no beheadings here, no gays tossed off buildings, no burning folks alive for blasphemy.” No, not yet.

      Give them a few months. They cannot fail to do these things. It’s part of their programming as to how to treat those who defy them.

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      I know *you* understand this, because you’re doing it – but I’m going to explain for people reading

      This reply is a great example of some classic tactics of dismissal, where the actual argument matters less than the way this person is framing the writer

      These words encourage you to believe the writer is psychologically unsound in an attempt to undermine their testimony and analysis. So all it boils down to is ‘this person must be crazy, don’t believe them’

      Considering the article this is in response to, this reply is pretty revealing of the intent of the person behind it

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      Yes, Kathryn, this all sounds like a lot of hyperbole and wildly inflated, but I think you have missed the central tenet of this article. The far right, ‘Chrisitofscists’ want to take over, and IMPOSE their views on the whole country. They literally want to establish a theocracy. Do you think there is the slightest room in that for women’s reproductive rights, LGBTQ rights, immigrants rights, etc, etc?? The LGBTQ community isn’t ‘promoting a worldview,’ they simply have wanted the very same civil rights that straight people hold. I could not care less who people want to marry or what they want to do with their own bodies, but there are A LOT of people who think it is their business to regulate that. These whacked out, supposed ‘Christians’ want to do just that, to everyone.

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      Read the works of R.J Rushdoony or Gary North. Yes, they do want to kill gays, atheists and other non-Christians. They just know they need to get enough power before they can get away with it.

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      The writer clearly states that he’s talking about a subset of extreme Christianity, and many of those who commented have stated that they came from similar backgrounds. This isn’t about those who might just have a stricter sense of the scripture, this is about the extreme and to ignore or diminish what they are is not just naive but similar to excusing the thought processes of those who would normalize extremism of any sort.
      Maybe you don’t understand the issue of seeing someone as less than human, as less deserving of rights just because of their sexuality and gender identity race etc, but Emmett Till and Matthew Sheppard might be able to educate you. Maybe you don’t understand the issues (and death) that can come from things like strict abortion laws: I’d suggest you’d read this to get an idea: http://prospect.org/article/what-happens-when-abortion-outlawed
      Things like this are the first step to beheadings and burnings – all you have to do is see how those places that you mock as being extreme started off as open as your country, the cycles of violence exist in human history and to ignore them will make you equally complicit when they happen. Pick up a history book and you might be able to learn that.

    • 1

      Kathryn the difference is that the mermaids and pirates and LGBTs don’t think EVERYBODY needs to be a mermaid or pirate or LGBT, and they don’t impose their laws on the lives of non-mermaids, non-pirates and non-LGBTs.

      LGBT folks want to be allowed to marry each other but they aren’t advocating for straight people to NOT be allowed to marry each other. That’s the difference. We want everybody to have equal rights. Women want the option to have an abortion, they’re not requiring everybody to have an abortion or to even consider abortion.

    • 1

      Well. This comment is representative of exactly what she spoke of in her article. A response made by someone trained to argue, trained to respond to every negation of their belief, to outright lie about their intentions, knowing full well, that yes, their culture will eventually lead to gays being tossed off buildings, eventually folks will be burned alive for blasphemy, and pariah prisons will be established for retrain all those who do not comply. The difference here is fanaticism. It always leads to the devil eventually, and let’s face it, this is fanaticism at it’s worse. You’ve elected someone who is the antithesis of anything the bible has claimed as good, laid down with the devil so to speak, to that you can spread your Christian values.

    • 1

      Kathryn: before you discredit this article as exaggerated, ask yourself if you grew up in the far-right homeschool community. Do you know anyone who did? If you answer “no” to both those questions, you are misguided and/or deluded. I did and do. I can vouch for the author’s viewpoint. Many of us can. Their behaviour is far more dangerous and insidious than you think. They are not just nice people with different viewpoints and who are merely uncomfortable with sex.

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      I appreciate the article, and am very sorry you grew up in such an extremist situation. This is just another example of how there are “normal” and “extreme” beliefs in every group. I am not at either end of the spectrum… but I agree with Karen.
      The author was raised by a very small percentage of extreme Homeschool Christianity… so her views are going to be extreme.
      To broadbrush Christians the way they are depicted in this article is (to use the Liberals favorite term), extremely INTOLERANT.
      I think Christians want to feel they have the choice to live their values without having their heads chopped off, being demeaned because of their moral values, etc. The very same things that other “groups” want.
      How many TV shows do you see where LBGT’s are made fun of, criticized, humiliated, etc?? Or what about Muslims? So if one thinks, “poor me”, I’m being marginalized by Christians, then you have much research to do. How many NON-extremeist Christian Ministries have you researched to see what they stand for, and what all they do to help people – not only Christians… or just in the USA, but all over the world? Samaritain’s Purse, for one. But many, many, others.
      What I see from these organizations is love & compassion. But if one looks at everything from a filter of anger, hated or other distortions… you will not see truth.
      Liberals are famous for saying they are “open-minded”… please keep that in mind when you do your research. Open your mind to the fact that not everyone agrees with you… and you aren’t necessarily “right”.
      Rent “Hillary’s America”, and explain why BLACK historians would say that it was Democrats who started the KKK? It was Democrats who have supported abortion rights so the impoverished Black communities would keep their birth rates down?
      Just as the author accuses Christians of having an agenda – so does every other group in America. You just don’t see Christians out protesting with offensive signs (F-U, etc) and hate-filled words. I find that Christians are more tolerant of the hate-speak than any other group.
      Why are the LGBT, Black Lives Matter, and other groups not protesting the politicians who want open borders – which would allow Muslim Extremeists into our country? If you don’t believe me, do your own research. They already have a foothold in America, and their goal is to turn America into a Muslim Country. The ones who are here have been told to “lay low and blend in” to make it easier for more Muslims to infiltrate. I, for one, do not want to live under the oppressive Islamic Law. I don’t want to see gays and lesbians thrown off of buildings simply because of their sexual orientation! I don’t want to live under Sharia Law! But, I refuse to live in fear.
      Bottom line, we should be working TOGETHER to become a nation that is SAFE from those who want to destroy the freedoms we enjoy. Whether you like it or not, America WAS founded on Christian beliefs. Read your “real” history books. Not the crap our education system is putting out there. It doesn’t mean we all have to live under that belief system, but we should be thankful that we live in a country where “law & order” is the norm. Why do you think so many people want to come to the US? We don’t believe it’s OK to kill anyone you choose… or steal what’s not yours, or kill someone because they have a different value system. Those beliefs are part of biblical truth. If America was not founded on the tenants of faith & freedom, none of us would have the right to be writing on this site without extreme punishment (if we disagreed with government). I find that the younger generation especially is very short-sighted. They seldom look back at history and see what our men & women fought for to give us the freedoms that we have.
      So choose what you will, but ultimately quit whining because you don’t always get your way. I didn’t vote for Obama, but I respected his position as president while he was in office. And no, I didn’t agree with a majority of his agendas. But I believe he was put there for a reason… just as I believe Trump & Pence were put in the WH for a reason. That reason could be to protect you and I from those who want to destroy our freedoms.

      • 2

        This is a nice collection of partial and out of context facts. Nathan Bedford Forrest is considered the founder of the KKK. He was a confederate officer during the Civil War. He was responsible for the massacre of Union soldiers and free black men at Fort Pillow. Abraham Lincoln was a Republican. The south was predominately Democratic until the Civil Rights Movement. Then the racist abandoned the Democratic party for the Republican party. It is true that most of the founding fathers were Christians. They were fleeing religious persecution. That is why they were very deliberate about maintaining separation of church and state. They did not want people of other faiths to be persecuted or second class citizens. So while it’s not completely inaccurate to say this is a nation founded on Christianity since the founding fathers and early settlers were Christian it is misleading. The constitution is very clear about not having a state sanctioned faith. It’s one of the few things that the majority agreed on. When you get your information from a movie directed at vilifying a person it probably isn’t going to be accurate. There should be multiple credible sources. Also, Trump and Pence have no intention of protecting anyone not white, rich, and Christian. I think the first few weeks of the administration bears this out.

        This country arbitrarily applies the death penalty. Whether you believe in the death penalty or not the fact is we do choose who dies and who lives based on random guidelines from state to state. As well as the personal beliefs of the people on juries.

        Terrorist attacks on American soil are overwhelmingly committed by white Christian men. I’m suppose to be afraid of the Muslim enemy lying in wait when in the meantime people like Dylan Roof and Timothy McVeigh are indiscriminately killing those they consider either inferior or who are philosophically different.

        Christians don’t have offensive signs at their demonstrations? How about “god hates fags” or “AIDS kills fags”. “God created AIDS to kill fags”. “Homosexuals burn in hell”.

        People who believe in the right to choose are not pro-abortion. I, for one, support a woman’s right to choose. It’s her body. I don’t know the story behind all the women seeking to terminate their pregnancy. It’s none of my damn business. And they don’t owe me or anybody else an explanation because it’s their body. Seeking to defund Planned Parenthood would be catastrophic for minorities and the poor. They would lose access to healthcare as well as safe and effective birth control. The same people who want to outlaw abortion are looking to cut benefits for poor families. Once the child is born they don’t care anymore.

        The Republican congress has already voted to repeal measures to limit access to guns for mentally ill people. Every time there’s a mass shooting they say the problem is mental health care. But they cut funding for mental health resources and allow anybody who wants a gun to get one. I have a history of depression and suicide attempts. I have been committed to psychiatric facilities because of this. I should not be allowed access to a gun. I wouldn’t hurt others but like thousands do every year I may take my own life. I am grateful I survived my attempts. A gun would not have made that possible. Allowing people with serious mental health issues to easily access guns isn’t protecting anyone.

        Samaritan’s Purse does provide services for impoverished countries. But they try to save you in the process. They only provide resources if they are allowed to spread their message. They are transparent and well ran but their ultimate goal is to “save” people.

        You’re arguments are based on cherry picked information.

    • 1

      OMG – I don’t know whether to laugh at the naivete’, or snarl at the intentional blindness. Those people are out there – they’re out *here*. I meet them on a regular basis. Pretending they’re not, or pretending that your not knowing any means anything, are about equally foolish.

      I don’t even know how to argue with someone like that. Maybe a couple of weeks following me around at my job… and mine isn’t even social services or anything like that. I just meet these people at random, *regularly*.

      And your idea of “most extreme” is hilarious.

    • 2

      “a group that is little different than any group trying to live their beliefs and promote what they believe to be the best world view for how to live as human in a temporal world. How is what they are doing different from everyone else?”

      How is it different? The other groups seeking a “piece of the identity-rights pie” are not trying to say you cannot be Christian, whereas the conservatives in these “Christian” groups are trying to legislate discrimination against those who do not see the world as they do. They are trying to legislate Christian prayer into classrooms, legislate making abortion illegal, legislate denying birth control, legalize discrimination against LGBTs. They are not just trying to live their own lives as they see fit, they are trying to make everyone else live their life, their religion. Or did you miss that point, made repeatedly, in the article. Have you missed how they have attempted many times they have tried to ban books that don’t agree with their teachings and beliefs from public education. How they have attempted for get biblical creationism instead of evolution taught. How they promote religious inclusion in government for Christians, but not other religions.
      That is how they are different.
      They don’t just “lament” at their “most extreme.” They actively try to make their religious code the law.

    • 1

      First of all, climate change is a proven geophysical phenomenon, not a belief system. You don’t have to believe that the sun rises in the morning. It just happens.

      The Quiverfull philosophy expects you, as a woman, to become a baby-making machine in your mid-teens. Your body and reproductive system will be controlled by a man, who will impregnate you when he chooses. This situation will continue until you’re no longer capable of having children. Your life will serve no other purpose. And you’ll go along with it because you will have been brainwashed into thinking that your uterus is a weapon against non-believers.

      It’s true that there are no beheadings or people being burned alive. Just plain old sexual slavery. Not that different from the behavior of certain radical Islamic groups who also happen to be terrorists. Do you really think there’s a moral equivalency between sexual slavery and LBGT advocacy?

    • 2

      “LGBT groups promote their worldview and are activists in politics.”

      LBGT groups are not literally trying to take over the country. That is not their agenda no matter what Evangelicals and the right believe.

      “Climate change acolytes have their priests and are activists in politics.”

      Seriously? It’s called science. It’s called cold, hard facts. And once again, their mission is not to have as many children as possible and raise them all in the same “religion” so as to outnumber everybody else. I mean, the name Quiverfull pretty much sums it up, doesn’t it?

      “…Christians who at their most extreme lament sex outside marriage or what they consider deviant sex or taking a life in the womb, which they consider wrong (it kinda is), or having bathrooms just for boys and girls.”

      Lament? Are you serious? It’s one thing to lament but another thing to pass laws against that which you lament. I don’t care that you or anybody else laments, as long as you don’t try to pass laws based on your judgment. I mean, there was a time when the intermarriage of blacks and whites was considered immoral and a bunch of other things and was against the law as a result. That is absolutely ridiculous. But interracial couples didn’t have the chance to ignore the finger waggers, because they weren’t wagging fingers. In some cases, they were swinging nooses from tree limbs. And that wasn’t so very long ago.

      This is a group that is deliberately trying to take over the country and make their view the dominant one. Yes, that is scary stuff. No amount of rationalizing or gaslighting will change that.

    • 1

      It was pretty benign before this election. We are now in a Christofacsist regime. Once they get a foothold they will be stripping away the rights of anyone who does not buy into their form of religion. You can look at Fundamentalist Islam as a comparison. And yes, they do burn people alive, throw them off of buildings and stone them to death. Because they have a majority, because they can.

    • 0

      Kathryn, I agree with you. This is an extremely harsh, inflammatory description of people who choose to raise their children differently than liberals do. Don’t we all hope our children will grow up to have our beliefs & values? I have many friends who chose to homeschool their children. They & their children are the most loving people I know, with more patience & selflessness than I could ever hope to have! The teachings of Jesus in the Bible are not evil or intolerant. Intolerance is vilifying people who believe differently & considering them “terrifying”. Reading these things about homeschoolers & christian conservatives is like being in an alternate universe! I challenge all of you to get to know a homeschool family personally! I guarantee you’ll be pleasantly surprised.

      • 1

        Plenty of us believe in the teachings of Jesus but don’t subscribe to the dangerous ideology that the author grew up in. To downplay or minimize her concerns make you seem like an imposter on this site. This sentence gives it away “This is an extremely harsh, inflammatory description of people who choose to raise their children differently than liberals do.” Um, no. I know first hand that what she says is true. We ignore it at our peril.

    • 1

      Perhaps you would say that…..or perhaps your group are not so extreme…….However, the article seems very frightening to me and highlights stuff I have read over here in the UK about far-right fundamental groups in the States. Be afraid, be very afraid – and watchful…..

    • 2

      Actually it is VERY different – how you can’t see it is beyond me but I will try to help you get it. These people are not fighting to live their way, they are fighting to force EVERYONE to live their way. Gays are not fighting to force EVERYone to be gay so that is not an adequate comparison. Climate change is another example, yes they are fighting for everyone to behave in a way that helps alleviate the problem but this is a stance based on scientific fact not imaginary religious beliefs. And finally, you are oh so very very wrong and missed the point of the article completely. You said the worst they do is wag their fingers and try to make people feel guilty. The entire point of this article is trying to tell you it is WAY WAY WAY worse than that. YES they actually are trying to make it impossible, if not illegal, for people to live in ways that don’t align with their narrow view point.

    • 2

      Sorry dear, but you really don’t know what you’re talking about. Many of us know first hand that everything the author wrote about is completely true. Anyone who denies it is naive. It’s not about the “identity rights pie.” Your reply makes you sound like an apologist for these people.

    • 0

      Totally agree with the above commenter. The whole idea that these ‘christofascists’ are the bogeymen is outright laughable. Perhaps you should spend some time researching the muslim extremists, who are quietly infiltrating our society. They hate the christians as much as you do, but they go a step beyond–they have no compunction whatsoever about killing christians or gays, and treating women worse than dogs. Maybe you ought to stir up fear about that. The ‘christofascists’ aren’t going to kill you. smh

      • 1

        The muslim threat to this country has been completely exagerated to the benefit of the right wing. Even 9/11 when closely examined falls apart at the seams (in terms of how it actually happened and whos to blame). Once again, science and facts, science and facts. As one more person who has had contact with such extremist groups, i can attest to the veracity of this article. We have the largest military in the world, we have nothing to fear from muslims, get real. The entire rest of the world is afraid of us, for good reasons. But maybe if most Christians made education and travel in order to get a balanced world view a priority we wouldnt have to explain these basic concepts.
        I dont see the problem being extremist Christians so much as the powerful elite who are using you and others like you to gain power over minorities, women and the poor. I think Christians think they are going to take over the nation, and the people doing the actual takeover are the super rich elite, which by the way i live with every day. I live in a very, very wealthy town where the global rulemakers get together everh year to decide the fate of this country. They have more money than most people know. As a Christian you should be outraged that these are the people you have helped secure power for.

    • 1

      I don’t think it’s an exaggeration, at all. I’ve been watching this movement since 1979 and have known people like this. In 1981 I worked in a Christian school that used the type of curriculum mentioned and I remember the parents, pastors, and other teachers: it was an “us” vs “them” mentality. When I left to go to university and become a teacher in the regular system, it took years for me to stop thinking I was doomed. You may not have experienced these extremes but clearly, many of us have.

    • 1

      If you believe in a loving God who is the creator wouldn’t you be the first to care about this world and His creation? If nearly all of the leading scientists in the world, who are intelligent people, who care about the world are agree bring any shadow of doubt he’s that’s it’s real, why wouldn’t you want to do song about it? I care about Climate Change because I’m a Christian. Can you think about it? Can you read a bit about it? I’ts not doubting God to think about things for yourself.

    • 1

      Kathryn, there is something basically disturbing about the Christian Right’s desire to mold our laws into instruments for taking away secular rights. We were formed as a republic with rights to freedom of religion but also freedom FROM religion. The movement she wrote about wants to repeal many of the rights we have fought so hard to gain because of a belief that this is God’s Will for America. Thankfully, most of us do not want a Theocracy.

  16. 0

    This is the subculture I grew up in—all the groups you mentioned were immediately familiar, and people I knew were/are involved with them. My parents started homeschooling myself and my siblings initially because they thought it would be more academically rigorous and more tailored to individual kids’ learning styles, but they became noticeably more religiously conservative in their motives over years of involvement with the community. It gradually shifted to homeschooling mostly to “protect” their kids from the perceived dangers of secular influences in public schools—evolution, sex ed., “the homosexuals”, “the liberal agenda”…

    Aaaaaaaaaaaaand spoiler alert, despite the total lack of exposure to anything LGBTQ-related in my younger life, I still turned out to be totally gay.

    Thanks for sharing.

  17. 0

    Sweet Sweet Jeebus. Every hair on my arms is at twelve o’clock. First, thank you.
    Second, stay safe. Third, stay safe. No. Seriously.
    HOW do we get this to go viral?

    Ken Blackwell is in charge of domestic policy!
    In all the churn and burn no one is paying attention.
    Yikes.

  18. 1

    I will absolutely second all of this. I grew up Mormon, rather than Quiverfull and basically refused to be homeschooled, but I’ll second the sentiment Kieryn describes. These people actively and honestly want to take over the world. To make laws requiring everyone to live by their set of ideas. Logic does not reach them. They’re like the hosts in Westworld – they simply can not see things that they’ve decided would upset them. There is absolutely no reasoning with them because they are so convinced they are Right. It is horrifying. It is paralyzing. It is real.

  19. 0

    I grew up in rural MO, and the mindsets were very similar among other kids I knew in the public school system. Terrifying. As a non-Christian who was religiously bullied in school, I’m not comfortable around Christians in informal social settings despite years of distance from K-12. Christians who want to talk religion with me today still want me to have read all of their sacred stories when they have read 0% of mine, and the implicit end goal seems to still be conversion, not mutual respect.

  20. 1

    Oh Quiverfull, I forgot about them. I was homeschooled and ran across them a few times. These are some of the folks that give homeschooling a bad name. In trying to raise active citizens, they end up teaching their children to be well-spoken and hyper-religious. Most of the homeschooled kids I know swung to the Left as we grew older. Our parents didn’t realize what they taught us: we can convert people to the Left now. 😉

  21. 0

    Thanks for writing what needs to be said!! You are a strong, brave beautiful woman! I have a hard time getting people who haven’t experienced the far religious right to understand the danger. In a world of tolerance, it is viewed as benign.

    From:
    An ex-fundamentalist, evangelical, far-right, conservative Christian turned liberal, feminist, homeschooling humanist.

  22. 0

    omg i had no idea any of this existed. i’m terrified, all of a sudden The Handmaids Tale could be the future and not just a dystopian novel??? how can we fight this, how do we fight this? i always joked evangelicals are extremist christians just like members of isis are extremist muslims… as a catholic this whole thing is so bizarre and alien to me and it only seems to be a phenomenon in America?? again, how do we fight this if people like pence et al are already in power?

    • 0

      Unfortunately, for those of us who grew up in the subculture, The Handmaid’s Tale is all too real. My parents weren’t quiverfull like Kieryn’s, but if you’re in the Christian homeschool subculture it’s inescapable.

      My old youth pastor gave me a marriage book for my high school graduation. I was seventeen. This wasn’t just any marriage book, mind you, it was a book that told women that if their husbands were beating them, the solution was to submit even more. That was the expectation that many people in my life had for me–to find a husband as soon as possible and start having children. If that husband beat me, well, it was my fault for not submitting better. If that crowd had their way, I’d have been in a marriage to a man I wasn’t attracted to, with half a dozen kids, by the time I figured out I was queer.

      Everyone knew I was college bound with the plan to go to law school, but outside of my parents and a few other people, no one supported that choice because I was supposed to be married and having kids. I lost count of how many times I justified my decision to major in computer science instead of a more suitable for a homeschool mom degree like elementary education by telling people that I could code from home. I had no intention of doing that, but it was the only way to stop the questions.

      Between the messages that I was supposed to be a submissive wife popping out a dozen children and the training to take over politically, when I finally read The Handmaid’s Tale in law school, it was like reading the story of the life I was supposed to have.

  23. 0

    I appreciate your article! What you have described looks absolutely nothing like Jesus. They may be using the term Christian but there is nothing Christ-like about it-Not the mission, the purpose, the methods or the outcome. As a Christian, I am deeply saddened.

  24. 0

    This article really spoke to me because I spent a few years in Christian Homeschool education. I actually enjoyed the lessons as they let me work at my own pace and well, I was raised Christian so I didn’t mind almost every subject being about God. But I just begun to look into them and well they seem to echo the same views as Generation Joshua but are less focused on getting Christian kids into government.
    This is I guess, their platform: https://www.aceministries.com/aboutus/pdf/Great_Commandment_Commission.pdf

    I haven’t read all of it but I guess after spending 10 years away from this type of language it feels very indoctrinating.

    I am a Christian. I have my own issues with that. Being born and raised into a church, I never felt like I had a choice in what beliefs should be. Two churches I went to were cults and I was taken in by a false prophet. I just want to have my faith and not get in the way of anyone’s beliefs. I’m also transgender so I’m dealing with a lot of cognitive dissonance I guess you can say. I know what I feel and I know what I feel is right but I also have this strict Christian upbringing that I just can’t reject. I also became quite far-left in my teens years. First communist then anarchist and now I’m pretty comfortable as a Trotskyist socialist.

    I’m a pretty confused person these days but I know one thing is for sure: religion doesn’t belong in politics. I don’t care if I end up in Hell. I firmly believe that you can’t force your views on a multitude of people with different beliefs or no beliefs.

  25. 0

    I was trained for a similar movement North of the border – Canadian neo-fascists are less religious, more under the guise of that brand of “libertarianism” which amounts to “a totalitarian regime where I and people like me are the ones who call the shots,” but they employ a lot of the same techniques and strategies.

    Like the Quiverfull group, though, they do believe in outvote, outbreed, outactivate, and they brainwash their kids to be good little neofascists.

    And it took for me, really well. For years. I was finishing up my master’s degree before I even started to doubt. It’s fucking scary how well the brainwashing gets you. Weirdly, the first crack was climate change – I wound up getting a project on carbon capture in grad school and I approached writing the intro as a trick to try to find evidence to “disprove” it (this was around the time of the Climategate scandal so climate change deniers had a lot of fuel for the fire). Except, when I actually got into the literature… everything seemed to support it. So I dug deeper. And all of that supported it. And I looked for flaws, and where there were flaws they weren’t deal-breakers in terms of study design and oftentimes repeat studies which filled the gaps had been done. And there was study after study after study, thousands of them, and hundreds of different approaches and thousands of different lines of evidence and virtually all of it pointed in one direction, and that direction wasn’t my direction. So I looked into the denialist side of things and it’s like cherry-picked data left, right and centre, and massively flawed studies all over the place, and so on and so forth. Stuff like “Climate change stalled from year X to year Y!” … well yeah but it also continued unabated after year Y and also the stall was due to the well known global cooling effect of Z phenomenon so if you superimpose the average warming trend with the cooling effect imposed by Z, you’d expect it to stall… that it stalled isn’t evidence against climate change – that it didn’t cool is evidence of it! By the time I was done the literature search it was like, “Well. Crap. I was on the wrong side of this one.”

    Which then got me thinking “If I’m on the wrong side of that one, what else am I on the wrong side of?” So I started with gay rights because I’d known I was bi since my teen years and it was always one of those things I kind of viewed as a personal weakness because I’d been brainwashed that SSA people are damaged (I’d been sexually abused as a kid which fit the narrative) or pedophiles (terrified the heck out of me because of my own history), and I found that.. nope. And conversion therapy doesn’t convert you straight but it does make you more likely to kill yourself. So I’m on the wrong side of that. Well, feminism! Surely that’s a lie, right? Nope. Free market health care? Haha no. Well, surely it’s better for disabled kids to be excluded from the classroom? Actually everyone does better with inclusion – oh, and you’re autistic. Oh. Crap. Trans rights? Nope, oh and the trans experience is something that resonates with me at the core and hey guess what I’m a trans dude and that’s why I’ve spent my entire post-puberty life hating my body and wishing I could cut certain parts off and thinking I would’ve been a better boy than a girl…

    I’m not and have never been a religious person, but my experience with the deprogramming was almost like a crisis of faith – once the solid face of belief is chipped, it starts to crack. The crack spreads and spreads, and finally you hit the point of no return and everything just shatters all at once. It was quite honestly the most painful period of my life – and I’m still emerging from it. The most difficult part is this sense of deep shame regarding the-me-that-was 10+ years ago and this driving need to make up for the things I did out of ignorance and brainwashing.

    My point I guess is that your experience is probably more common – and more international – than you think it is, sadly.

    • 0

      I’m a Christian, but as liberal as Jesus was…rainbow flag waving, tree hugging, lefty left left Christian and I just want to hug you all and apologize and say this stuff just is NOT RIGHT! I am SO sorry you were so horribly abused in the name of God by men who bastardized religion to their own ends! It repulses me and infuriates me.

      It also scares me. Every day I watch what is coming down with the current GOP and it feels like we are helpless to stop it. I know we can’t be. I know that part of this has to be a last gasp effort to try to swing our country back to pretend time that never existed, but it is still fucking scary.

      Yeah, I’m a Christian public school teacher and I say fuck and you know what, Jesus loves me anyhow.

  26. 0

    Thank you for this article! It was very informative and incredibly scary to read. I’d also like to print your final sentence on a shirt and walk around in it all day, and I’m safely in Europe (which does have it’s very own problems and plenty of them, and we need to work on this shit for real). I’ve only very recently encountered crazy christian americans for the first time, and as a scholar who knows the bible for professional reasons (and a flaming atheist) their inner workings made me run for the woods screaming. I also waved a rainblow flag in their face, of course. We gotta do what we gotta do. People, I hope you’re all safe. Be careful, and if possible loud. You are the resistance.

  27. 0

    Please do not try and place all homeschoolers under the umbrella of the HSLDA and Evangelical folks. There are those of us who homeschool for purely secular reasons – because we want to give our kids a more robust and individual education full of logic and reason, not to train them as soldiers for Christ. Please ensure that any and all articles that bash homeschoolers as a group like this include the idea that there are many people homeschooling for secular reasons and our concerns and valid and separate from religious homeschoolers.

    • 0

      Indeed. These are the reasons we chose to homeschool our children. Public education is failing because the curricula are being watered down by state school boards that are infested with right-wing Christofascists.

    • 0

      Then this article isn’t talking about you, is it? Secular homeschoolers ought to be fighting this harder than anybody, because you stand to lose if they take over. Perhaps you should speak out against fundamentalist homeschooling instead of pulling the #NotAllHomeschoolers card.

    • 0

      This piece was written as known and experienced by the author. The Fairness Doctrine as applied to broadcasts after WWII was removed during Reagan. Though this is a written piece, it still follows that the author has no obligation to describe what she did NOT experience, especially considering that more than one viewpoint is not presented in the atmosphere she grew up in. That is largely the point of this article, actually.

    • 0

      Seriously, if you cannot read this article without thinking “Oh this must be talking about me” then you lack some serious critical thinking skills.

      Do you belong to the Quiverfull movement? If the answer is no, they are not talking about you.

      Just because you are a homeschooler, and she was homeschooled, does not mean they are talking about you.

      If you cannot separate the two, you need to go back and re-read the article without that bias, or perhaps you should not be educating your children. Just sayin’

  28. 1

    Thank you for sharing your story.
    My large, atheist, activist, homeschool family is working hard to do what we can within our diverse homeschool community as well as in the bigger picture. We are out there, and we are gaining strength!

  29. 0

    Wow! I grew up as the daughter of a pastor and forced to participate in Operation Rescue and watching my dad get arrested for blocking abortion clinics. It disturbed me then and disturbs me even more now to know its this deep. We are the resistance!

  30. 0

    We can’t change the “Christofacists” with our science.. but we can teach them through their own doctrine.

    Jesus was a leftist. Religion of his time and his teachings were done through storytelling; the there were reoccurring themes, slightly different choices which caused different outcomes. Religious scholars tell us that these stories where the means to teach rules to a largely illiterate populace.

    We can’t turn a “Christofacist” with science, but we can help them see the light through scholarly presentation of their Bible!

    We can gently nudge the “Christofacists” into the epiphany that their teachings have been tainted by the Anti-Christ..& that our job is not to judge, but to love ❤️.

    For an example of how this war can be won, checkout this Brilliant, young theist pastor, Katsuya (Kats) Omine, at the Westlight Community Church in Los Angeles, CA.

    Kat’s casual, sometimes self effacing delivery is enjoyable “edutainment” on the Highest Order.

    To hear his teachings, you’ll have to go to your smart phone’s App Store & download an app called BulletonPlus.

    Then hunt through all the churches to find Westlight Community Church.
    ———-
    I am an agnostic, who is active in Westlight’s Free Methodist Church. The result of a “mixed marriage” (Roman Catholic & Orthodox Jew), raised and taught comparative religion in the Unitarian Church & as an Anthropologist, before attending a Jesuit Law School.

  31. 1

    Thank you thank you. Amazing and terrifying and fantastically well written. In these dark times it would be inspiring and hopeful to hear the story of how you came to critical consciousness. I hope you’ll consider sharing that part of the story- we certainly need it.

  32. 0

    Your essay lays out the problem; the “enemy” is well-prepared, numerous, already entr nched in government at all levels, and irrational. “They” can’t be persuaded, or reasoned with. You conclude with the admonition that the only method available to “us” (rational liberals and/or progressives) is to to “resist”…particularly to “fight back”. I have r we numerous people, from Rachel Maddow, to Robert Reich, to Bernie Sanders, to Keith Olberman, saying the same: rising, fight back. What–precisely–does this mean? I want to resist, I want to “fight” (using the structure of our laws and government to press for individual rights and freedom for all) but, what exactly should I do? What does “fight”, mean? What specific steps should someone who wants to “resist”, actually take? Thank you for your time.

  33. 0

    My husband’s 4 children were home-schooled and home-churched by his ex wife and her “pastor” step-father. For the past 16 years we have lived in a parental-alienation hell. The now adult children have false memories of us implanted in their minds that they believe are true. At some point we became “characters” to them rather than people. These “Christofascist” are very real. This article is 100% accurate, and if we don’t pay attention, we’ll only realize what’s happened when it’s too late. I pray these 4 people, that we still love very much, find the strength to one day break free as well. “Believe in the Truth, and the Truth shall set you free”.

  34. 1

    This is the first time I’ve been on this site, and I have to say how impressed I am by both the article as well as the comments. These are real conversations handled respectfully. What a joy to find this. I hope to spend more time here.

  35. 0

    Fascinating and horrifying. Most interested in how you, Kieryn, came to change your mind about what you had been taught, and whether you have been estranged from your family as a result. In your story, I see hope for others in Quiverfull, though I’ve pretty much given up on those poor Duggar girls …

  36. 1

    Kieryn, I just have to applaud your courage. Leaving your family and community – all that you knew, really – couldn’t have been easy. Thank you for educating us on this. You are mighty and strong.

  37. 1

    I have to ask, where does environmentalism fall into their ideology? I don’t mean being a “hippie”, I mean, preserving the earth and being its stewards as God supposedly called people to do. Do they just ignore that? You’d think they’d have more to say against the destructive ways of modern agriculture and wastefulness, and be against things like oil pipelines and fracking. Surely God doesn’t want humanity to destroy earth?

  38. 0

    Sounds like the systems that allow this line of thinking are totally ingrained into Federal homeschooling legislation and state / local government offices. Against this sort of cemented opposition, how do we fight? Great article, don’t get me wrong, I just can’t see a way to combat this strong of a zealatous fanatical base.
    Wait for Tom Cotton to die I guess?

  39. 0

    Thank you for this article. I’ve come into contact with the strain of homeschooler Christians that you’ve described, both in my personal and professional life. I was part of a Bible study group in college where some members believed a moderate version of what you’re describing, as well as spending unending hours talking about the Genesis narrative and contrasting it to science. I don’t know why I stuck around for so long, but doing so definitely delayed my realization that I’m queer!

  40. 0

    well I for one WILL FIGHT to MY DYING BREATHE to PROTECT MY RIGHTS, and Those of The People I Love…..Black, Women and LGBTQ….. F with me – and I F with YOU 10 FOLD! ..its no wonder Im an ATHEIST NOW/.

  41. 0

    Brilliant article! I was just having a conversation with my son about how so many people fear Muslims, which makes no sense when we have the far-right trying to force their religion on all of us.

  42. 0

    I am not trying to be a fear monger. I’ve known about this for a while, and it’s why I believe that there will be another civil war in this country. It’s just a matter of when. While we hear a lot about Muslims, ISIS, Sharia Law, Islamic Extremists, these “Christofascist” ain’t no better. We are going to have a fight on our hands.

  43. 1

    I was also home taught, thankfully, not for religious or “Protect the children” reasons. My parents always gave me the option of going to school, but I always turned it down. As a result I had an interesting childhood, growing up in a music store and acting as a clerk long before most people start working. It was a pleasant way to grow.

    But that said, it’s horrifying that so many people brainwash and push their agenda onto their children, how hard it is for those children to break out of it. You’re a lucky one, many of these commenters are lucky as well.

    The fight is coming, and sadly I’m certain that blood will end up spilled in the long run. But I hope that everyone knows that talking, that backing down, that remembering everyone is human is always an option. It’s a shame that brainwashing is such a difficult thing to undo…

    Stay strong peeps. Stay strong.

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    Kieryn, I homeschool and my kids participated in NCFCA. I didnt feel the pressure to take over the US for Christ but rather to teach kids how to discuss issues in a Christ-honoring way. However, there are many types of homeschoolers and Christian beliefs as Ive come to understand. I was caught up in supporting groups that you mentioned to take our country back to Christianity. Lol. I’ve since been ‘awaken’ to the sham that these groups are. I’m afraid the rabbit hole goes much deeper than you even know..yet. I’ve researched and truly believe now that those behind ALL of these groups are tied to the true goal of a one world order. You may not want to believe it but behind the scenes I believe the leaders work hand in hand with groups from the left. The culture war keeps us agitated and distracted. Dont fall for it. You are smart.Dig into freemasonry. Check out Luciferianism. Start there to see what religion really runs the world.

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    Wow, super useful and very brave. Please help think of solutions to act on. Obvious first move is to form very similar movements with the progressive message, we have missed out on our commitment to sharing and teaching a liberal, compassionate, inclusive agenda. The suggestions that you might have and the people that are commenting (also bravely ) on this string could be very useful – Keep writing. !

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    Holy cow, do I feel this. We weren’t part of the organized end of it, but the ideology is all there. I was raised a survivalist, homeschooled for years, taught that Christians were persecuted in this country, and that it was going to get worse. My brother and I were denied basic medical care for many years, relying instead on “faith healing”. My mother nearly let me die of an ear infection.

    All of this resonates. This was the culture I grew up in, a culture of fear, and hatred of anything and anyone different. A deeply racist culture. A powerful narrative that has put distance in between me and my family for decades now.